Should I hire a patent agent or a patent attorney? 5 Answers as of December 14, 2010

Is hiring a patent agent sufficient to apply for a patent or should I hire a patent attorney? What are the advantages of hiring an attorney?

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DANIEL NESBITT | Hasse & Nesbitt
A patent agent is qualified under the rules of the United States Patent Office to represent an inventors in the preparation, filing and examination of a patent or design patent application. In addition to their engineering or sciences credentials, patent agents have passed a one-time examination given by the US Patent Office on patent practice. In many cases, hiring a patent agent is sufficient to apply for a patent.

A patent attorney also require engineering or sciences credentials and have passed the US Patent Office examination, but in addition must have obtained a law degree from an accredited college of law, and to passed a state lawyers' examination (called the "bar exam"). A patent attorney also has enhanced obligations in the representation of the client. The patent attorney's services also extend to providing a client with legal advice and services for the preparation of confidentiality agreements and licensing agreements, for providing legal opinions regarding a possible infringement of the patent rights, and the representation of the client in federal lawsuits related to the enforcement and defense of patent rights - all services which a patent agent is not permitted to provide.

In the end, it is the client's decision to hire either a patent attorney or patent agent. Please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss my services as a patent attorney.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 12/14/2010
Law Offices of Daniel Richardson
Law Offices of Daniel Richardson | Daniel R. Richardson
Depends upon whether or not you need legal advice. A patent agent is not an attorney and can only advise you on what happens in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/9/2010
Devon & Associates
Devon & Associates | Marcia A. Devon
A patent attorney has graduated from law school and passed the bar exam in at least one state in addition to passing the Patent Bar Exam. Patent agents cannot provide legal advice they are only licensed to practice (e.g. prepare patent applications and respond to the Patent Examiner) before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. A patent attorney can be expected to anticipate how the patent claims she is writing in the patent application will hold up in Court. Patent attorneys usually have experience in Court or at at minimum, have read many cases deciding issues concerning patent infringement and validity.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/9/2010
Fish & Associates, PC
Fish & Associates, PC | Robert D. Fish
Either one is fine.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/9/2010
Young Basile
Young Basile | Denise Glassmeyer
Patent agents and patent attorneys are both registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Either can prepare your patent applcation and prosecute it to issuance by the USPTO. Since patent agents are not lawyers, they are unable to engage in activities that constitute the practice of law. This can include giving opinions about patent infringement or non-infringement, reviewing contracts pertaining to your patent or representing you court.

The choice between employing a patent agent and employing a patent attorney is very situation specific. Since you specifically ask what advantages there might be in employing a patent attorney over a patent agent, two major advantages that come to mind are that many patent attorneys are more likely to prepare and prosecute a patent with and eye toward potential enforcement and monetization and the patent attorney can represent the work in a variety of venues from the Patent Office to the negotiations table to the courts. In some circumstances, this can be more efficient.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/9/2010
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