The patent law, though, allows an individual to personally file patents application, without hiring a patent agent and patent attorney, inventors who themselves apply for patents usually end up with a wrong and weak filing of patent application, especially when the inventor is new.
Primarily, there are two types of professionals, patent attorneys and patent agents who are considered qualified to help inventors get their patents.
Both categories of professionals need to have a basic science and engineering degree. They are also required to have taken a course of study in the rules of practice of the patent office, that is; patent law, and both are also required to have cleared the Patent Law Bar Examination.
That apart, there is also a very fine line of difference between a patent attorney and a patent agent.
That is; a patent attorney must be graduate from Law School, and have a bar association membership.
This is why a patent attorney charges more than a patent agent. Where a patent attorney charges $120 per hour (the rate may vary today), the fees of a patent attorney is an average of $250 per hour. This rate may also vary today.
Though both the professionals help in getting patents, cost difference makes them stand apart from one another.
In addition, a patent attorney can represent you in court, and make contracts negotiation for you.
On the other hand, a patent agent is not allowed to do so as they aren’t lawyers.
How to choose a Patent Agent or Patent Attorney?
Turnaround time, quality and experience are the key factors in the performance of a Patent Attorney or Patent Agent.
A Patent Agent has had himself/herself registered to practice patent law before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
A Patent Agent must have a technical engineering degree or equivalent experience, and must have passed the U.S. Patent Office Exam successfully, or must have practiced as a U.S. patent examiner for four years or more before making his/her entry into the private patent practice.
A Patent Agent must be specialized in patent practice in front of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and doesn’t carry out law practice outside of the USPTO.
A Patent Attorney is registered to practice patent law in at least one state.
A Patent Attorney is free to practice law outside of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
A Patent Agent can create and apply for a patent application and carry out business with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
As soon as the patent is issued, the Patent Agent is free to keep trace of the life of a patent, but is not allowed to make representation of the patent.
The Patent Attorney is authorized to represent the patent, assignee, or inventor in court.
In brief, a Patent Agent is a qualified engineer, with required skills in the patent area, while a Patent Attorney is a lawyer with required skills and qualifications in the patent arena.