Many of my clients know I promote Stephen Key’s “One Simple Idea” series of books often, and he was kind enough to interview me for Inc. Magazine in regards to the difference between a patent agent and a patent attorney.
Generally speaking, both patent agents and patent attorneys have a 4-year engineering or science degree, and both have passed the patent bar exam administered by the US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO). Further, both agents and attorneys can represent clients at the PTO, and can do generally the same things at the PTO with regards to patents.
Patent attorneys can further represent clients in court should there be some type of litigation or law-related issue with regards to a patent. Other areas of law that an attorney can handle but a patent agent cannot are writing legal agreements, cease & desist letters, and prosecuting trademarks.
There’s more to this, and Stephen’s well-written article pursues some of the nuanced differences between patent agents and attorneys. You can read the full article here.