Patents provide legal protections that allow the inventors of new products and technologies to profit from their creations. The complexity of patents and patent systems creates the need for businesses, law firms, and other organizations to fill patent analyst jobs with qualified professionals. These are individuals who can understand both the legal and technical aspects of patents to inform their employers about the intellectual property issues around different products and technologies.
Creating a new technology can take significant investments of money and time in research and development. If a company could simply copy and sell technology another firm developed, it would profit from the invention without incurring any of the costs of developing it. In this situation, businesses that paid to create new technologies would be at a competitive disadvantage to companies that simply copied technology other firms had paid to create. When an inventor gets a patent for a new technology, no one but the patent holder can sell products which use that technology for a certain number of years. This allows the inventor to profit from the new product, make back the money spent developing it, and gives inventors the incentive to invest in developing more new technologies.
Patents spell out certain legal protections, but they are also plans and schematics that detail the different components of the technology and how it works. Lawyers that specialize in intellectual property are trained in the legal structure behind patents, but may not have the scientific expertise to understand the technology that the patent details. Professionals in patent analyst jobs must possess these technical skills to know exactly what technologies the patent protects.
The technical skills necessary to fill different patent analyst jobs vary with different types of patents. In the past, patents focused on mechanical devices, but more modern advances in technology have led to patents covering new drugs, computer software, and even specialized genetic material. Patent analysts who study drug patents must have backgrounds in pharmacy or pharmacology, while those who work with software patents should be educated in computer science, and analysts who deal with emerging areas of genetic intellectual property usually have training in molecular biology or similar fields.
Patent analyst jobs can include analysts with law firms who can investigate technologies to see if they violate patents already owned by the firm's clients. Businesses can also use these analysts after mergers and buyouts. For instance, when one company buys another, it also takes legal possession of all the patents that company owns and patent analysts can help companies in these situations understand what they have acquired. Companies can also use this knowledge to make business decisions related to licensing these technologies to other firms, or to make new products that use the knowledge or methods.