In order to ensure that patent attorneys provide quality services, prospective patent attorneys usually complete about three years of training in the field of industrial property protection after acquiring a university degree in engineering or science and having one year of practical/technical work experience. During their training, they undergo three phases in total. With a minimum duration of 26 months, the first and longest training phase for candidates takes place under the supervision of a patent attorney at a patent law firm or under the supervision of a patent agent at the patent department of a company. The next two training phases are known as the “office year”. This training period consists of two months at the DPMA and six months at the Federal Patent Court (Bundespatentgericht). Usually, in parallel to the training programme, the candidates attend a compulsory course of study in general law, specifically established at the FernUniversität (distance learning university) in Hagen, to round off the qualifying training.
At the end of their training, the candidates take the qualifying examination for patent attorneys. It consists of four written tests and an oral examination. Those who, after completing their studies, can prove having many years of previous experience in advising or representing clients in the field of industrial property protection, may also be directly admitted to the examination. In this case, too, a course of study in general law must be completed.
At the DPMA, we are responsible for all matters relating to the training and examination of prospective patent attorneys: For example, we decide who can be admitted to the patent attorney training or examination on the basis of their previous qualifications, support the candidates during their training, organise the “office year”, which starts in February, June and October of each year and the patent attorney qualifying examinations, which also take place three times a year.
Course of training
University degreein science or engineering + one year of (work) experience in a field of technology
trainingat a patent attorney’s office, at the DPMA and the Federal Patent Court
patent attorney qualifying examinationwritten component (four exams), oral component
after passing the qualifying examination
you may call yourself “Patentassessorin” or “Patentassessor” (patent agent)
The “office year” and the patent attorney qualifying examination: still influenced by the coronavirus pandemic
Even in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic presented us with considerable challenges in organising the “office year”. The experience gained during that time also helped us in 2021.
Once again, we managed to hold our training courses exclusively as video conferences, and we again had to reduce the candidates’ face-to-face training time with one of our examiners to a minimum during the practical training. Thanks to their flexibility and commitment, all supervisors succeeded in providing the candidates with the greatest possible insight into the practical work of the DPMA, even under difficult conditions.
In 2021, we continuously assessed the framework conditions under which it was possible to conduct the training and examination, making short-term adjustments in accordance with the infection rates and the applicable legal situation. Thus, during the peak of the second wave of infections, we had to postpone the written patent attorney qualifying examination, which had been scheduled for February 2021, in order to protect everyone involved. By applying the appropriate hygiene measures, we managed to hold the examination at the end of March 2021; the oral examination took place in May. We also successfully held the examinations on the two additional examination dates.
In 2021, we admitted 131 candidates to the patent attorney training. This means that the number of candidates admitted increased slightly compared to the previous year.
Out of 174 examinees, 166 passed the qualifying examination. Two candidates passed what is known as the qualifying examination for patent attorneys of other European member states under the Act on the Activities of Patent Attorneys from EU member states in Germany (Gesetz über die Tätigkeit europäischer Patentanwälte in Deutschland).
|Grade||Participants (in %)|
|above satisfactory||27.60 %|
At the DPMA we are responsible not only for the training and examination of prospective patent attorneys, but also for the appointment of the members of the vocational training committee for trained IP paralegals, formed at the Chamber of Patent Attorneys, in accordance with the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz). We appointed new members for a period of four years with effect from 11 October 2021. The committee consists of representatives of employees, employers and teachers at vocational schools. It deals with all essential issues related to the training and examination of trained IP paralegals.