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Withers & Rogers is operating on a business as usual basis. We are all working remotely and do not anticipate any notable change in service to our clients.
While your mathematics degree does count as a technical degree in the sense that you would require only the shorter qualifying period for becoming a European Patent Attorney (three years instead of the six years for non-technical degree subjects), we require a degree in science or engineering - ideally as a first degree, but possibly as a second - for someone training as a patent attorney. Other patent firms may have different policies.
Doctorates and other academic qualifications, unless in law, do not provide exemptions from the training process. A number of universities (e.g. Queen Mary University of London; University of Manchester) provide courses in IP Law which, if passed, gain an exemption from the foundation examinations.
While passing the QMUL MSc or Certificate in IP Law, or one of the similar courses from other universities, means that you are exempt from the foundation examinations, we will assess you along with other applicants via an assessment day – in other words, against those contemporaries who will go through the foundation examinations. We may even suggest, or possibly require, any successful applicants to do the foundation examinations as well, as we feel that this gives a more practical basis to your career as an attorney.
Patent and trade mark work is intellectually demanding, and we do generally prefer candidates with a First or Upper Second. If you think you can make a strong case for your skills without this level of qualification then we would look for supporting evidence in your application, e.g. awards and or extenuating circumstances.
The ability to read French or German is no longer essential for the European examinations. That said, knowledge of any foreign language is useful in a career as a patent attorney so it is advantageous if you already have abilities in either of these languages. German is particularly useful (see below) to the extent that we often visit Germany to conduct European Patent Office proceedings. To support this we provide language lessons at our offices.
While fluency in any foreign language may be useful, German is the most useful European language for patent attorneys. Most hearings at the European Patent Office are held in Munich (although many are now also held in the Hague, and others occasionally in Berlin), and most non-English European Patent applications are in German rather than in French.