Alan Leshner, the director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), had this to say about the shrinking field of science and research in the US. "This will have a devastating effect on American science." A report by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) this past September indicated that such decreases in funding could result in the American GDP being at least $203 billion smaller, with an 8% decrease in scientific publications, and a 3% decrease in patents, all by 2021.
However, one vocational aspect of science and technology that is often overlooked, and so far seems to be weathering the troubles, is the intellectual property market, and specifically patents and patent litigation. Patents guarantee innovators “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” their invention in the USA. In 2010 alone, the United States Patent and Trademark Office received 520,277 applications and granted 244,341 patents. While sure, the numbers of patents granted to americans is less than foreigners, the simple fact remains: Someone has to prepare, file, and represent those patents, and despite a continued steady growth in patent agent and attorney salaries over the previous 2 decades, few science and engineering students 1) know of this option to become a patent agent or 2) attend law school, allowing them to potentially become a patent attorney/lawyer. Which is interesting, because patent law is a vocational direction that is often overlooked by the brightest and highly qualified candidates: Scientists, engineers, and those with backgrounds in technology.
Take a quick look at some of the major headlines, and it quickly becomes apparent that patents are now more important than ever in both the American, and global, economy. Ever heard of Google? They purchased Motorola Mobility for over $12 bill
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