Patent attorney

I AM: Patent attorney

Dr. Johannes Wehner
Kador & Partner Part mbB



Dr. Johannes Wehner first studied law before he decided to study chemistry to become a patent attorney. In 2012 he started as a patent attorney candidate, completed his training as a patent attorney and is now a partner.

Why did you choose your specialty? What attracted you to it?

I found and still find my work at the interface between technology / science and law very exciting.
Patent attorneys require a technical degree such as B. Chemistry and are then trained in a law firm or a company to become a patent attorney.
This two-sided interest had long been clear to me: I was always very interested in chemistry at school. Nevertheless, after graduating from high school, I first studied law and came across the profession of patent attorney as part of this course. I immediately found the patent attorney's job profile fascinating, as I find both legal and technical issues challenging. So after completing my law degree, I went on to study chemistry in order to ultimately become a patent attorney.

How did you start your career?

In 2012 I went to Munich to train to become a patent attorney at the law firm Kador & Partner. The firm specializes in chemistry, life sciences, Pharmacy, Biotechnology and related fields.
You can be trained as a German patent attorney as well as a European patent representative. Both training courses can take place in parallel.
The training to become a German patent attorney takes about 3 years and includes both work in the law firm and a degree in law at the Fernuni Hagen. Following the training in the law firm, you will be trained at the German Patent and Trademark Office and at the Federal Patent Court, and at the end you will write an exam.
The training to become a European patent representative also takes place in a law firm or company and is also concluded with examinations.

Right at the beginning of this training, you work as a "patent attorney candidate" in the training firm. This is how you learn the necessary tools.

Did you know that you wanted to go into your current professional field? Or were there other stations that brought you there?

Due to the course of my studies, I already focused on the profession of patent attorney at the beginning of my chemistry studies.
At the beginning of my law degree, which I completed before studying chemistry, I did not yet know in which direction I would go later; Likewise, I had not originally planned to complete a double degree.

What are you doing today? What are your tasks as a patent attorney?

As a partner, i.e. co-owner of a patent law firm, my work is broad. In addition to the classic patent attorney work such as advising on patent and trademark issues, drafting patent applications and conducting litigation, I have a variety of tasks.
I manage our location in Fulda, which I set up myself, and am responsible for various management activities in our law firm.
I am also in contact with clients and advise them continuously and - as far as possible - visit them regularly. Due to our international clients, this also means regular trips within and outside of Europe. In addition, I have a teaching position at a university and regularly give lectures and (web) seminars.

What knowledge and characteristics should you have for your professional field?

Of course you need technical training.

Specialization is not so important here, but a good understanding of technical and scientific interrelationships.

This should be accompanied by enthusiasm for familiarization with a wide variety of technical issues. It is important to enjoy familiarizing yourself with new subject areas and to present these technical issues concisely and clearly.

Describe a typical working day. Are there any unforeseen events that require your attention? How do you work with colleagues? Do you work in a team?

I don't have a typical working day. However, almost every day I start studying my emails. I usually get up early and try to write important briefs in the early hours of the morning because I need peace and quiet and my full concentration.
The morning is often filled with consultation appointments and meetings. In the afternoons I also try to keep myself free for written submissions or I have further meetings.
I also travel regularly to do this.
Unforeseen events happen again and again: a client who is urgently looking for legal advice or employees who come to me with questions.

As a patent attorney, you usually handle cases alone;

However, we are several partners and a total of 35 employees, including 13 lawyers, so that we can support each other for a smooth process in the team. We can only do an excellent job if we all work hand in hand.

To what extent does your day-to-day work differ from that during your studies / doctorate? To what extent did your studies / doctorate prepare you for your current job?

My day-to-day work today has very little to do with everyday work during my studies or doctorate. This is of course due to the fact that I am no longer in a laboratory.
My job is simply different. But the email letter has stayed with me.
My combination of law and chemistry studies prepared me for the actual profession of patent attorney. However, this constellation is rather rare.
Just studying chemistry did not prepare me directly for the profession of patent attorney.
However, in addition to the professional qualifications, the doctorate in particular educated me to work independently and organize myself, which are essential as a lawyer.
In particular, I learned at the time to keep many projects running in parallel, which is also the case as a lawyer, since you often have to deal with several cases in parallel and all of them have to be juggled and processed with the appropriate care and prioritization.

What do you love about your work? Are there any special challenges?

From the patent attorney's point of view, I particularly appreciate being able to discuss the inventions with the inventors. It's just fun to exchange ideas with other technology and science enthusiasts.
I also like to train and advise, on the one hand to draw attention to IP topics and on the other hand to create the basics in the IP area for the participants.
As a partner in a law firm, I'm also an entrepreneur and here there are always unforeseen challenges, currently the corona pandemic, which you have to master and take care of your employees and the company in order to get everyone safely through the crisis. I really enjoy taking on such management activities and developing the law firm.

What are career opportunities in your professional field?

Career opportunities depend on whether you work in industry or in a company.
In a law firm there is the possibility of becoming a co-owner, ie partner, over time. In a company you can move up in your department and develop yourself in other ways.

If someone wants to pursue the same career path, what would you advise them to do?

Bring joy in science (technology) and law. The job of the patent attorney is very special in its requirement profile, since the legal aspects almost do not appear in the scientific education. If you like to write and like to "dig into" new technical topics, the profession of patent attorney is a very good choice.

Very important: I recommend anyone interested in this profession to do an internship with a patent attorney beforehand. In a short time you will find out whether you like the job or not.

Note: For reasons of readability, the simultaneous use of gender-specific language forms is not used. All personal names apply to all genders.

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last modified: 10.05.2021 15:09 H from