What is the Difference Between a Patent Attorney and a Patent Agent?

A patent agent is an individual who has been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). On the other hand, a patent attorney is a person who has studied law and has graduated from law school. This individual has passed the State Bar Association exam and the USPTO exam. In essence, a patent attorney is a patent agent who also holds a law degree. Similar to engineers and agents, these lawyers must have formal training in a scientific or technical field.

This may include a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, or Doctorate. These professionals then attend law school and must pass the bar exam in the state in which they intend to practice. Ultimately, both patent agents and attorneys are valuable resources that can help you protect and make the most of your ideas and inventions. Each of them has their own strengths, and they often work together to create patents and applications. The agents handle the initial drafts while the lawyers refine and polish them later.

Patent agents specialize in patents and must have experience in relevant technical areas to understand their clients' inventions. However, when it comes to the legal aspect of the patent process, patent agents are not authorized to provide legal advice if an infringement occurs or if licensing opportunities arise. This allows them to file patent applications, advise clients on the patentability of their inventions, and evaluate the state of the art. Patent attorneys and agents are similar in that they can both evaluate patents, work with inventors, draft applications, and communicate with the USPTO. A patent attorney can also provide legal advice because they have passed a state examination for law and are licensed to practice law.

It is best to work with people who have experience in a variety of legal issues rather than lawyers whose only experience is in patent law. However, unlike patent attorneys, patent agents cannot represent their clients in other legal matters such as prosecuting an infringement in court. While patent agents are qualified to handle almost any matter related to filing patents before the USPTO, they are expressly prohibited from providing legal advice.

Forrest Kemmerer
Forrest Kemmerer

Hipster-friendly internet trailblazer. Music specialist. Incurable bacon buff. Lifelong social media lover. Certified coffee junkie. Hardcore explorer.

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