Should You Get A Patent Agent Or Lawyer? Here's What You Need To Know
Preparing a patent application and conducting the proceedings to obtain the patent is a process that requires intimate knowledge of patent law, rules and procedures.
There is a level of technical and scientific knowledge around matters that pertain to patentable subject matter which is also integral.
Inventors are not barred by law from preparing and filing their own patent applications, but unless you are familiar with these matters (I'd go on a limb and even say "deeply familiar"), or have studied them in detail, the intricacies of various laws, rules, regulations and clauses can cause challenges and difficulties along the path.
Some Insight On What You Need
More than likely, you’ve worked endlessly to finally bring your idea to a sound and solid state. I have no doubt that if you're reading about hiring a patent agent or attorney, you've been hard-working for at least 3-6 months, if not more.
You've completed your prototype, you're strapped with information for your pitch and research about your target market and competitive landscape. Your PPA has been filed.
Now you're thinking about protecting your idea under a non-provisional patent - and rightly so.
As an inventor, the road ahead can feel like a midnight street with no streetlights. A dark desert where you just never know what's a few steps ahead.
Your ideas could be worth millions.
Now, with your limited budget, can you really afford to hire the expertise of a patent attorney to protect your ideas or invention?
Do you risk being exploited or taking a misstep if you file for a patent yourself?
Patent Agents & Patent Attorneys: Is There A Difference?
Before we delve into the need for an attorney or agent, it's important to understand the differences between the two. It's similar to comparing apples and oranges - they are both fruit, but with clear distinctions.
Both agents and attorneys can help you in the patent process. The difference really lies in the level of education each has secured. Patent attorneys are actually lawyers (attorneys at law); patent agents are not lawyers.
They both must meet a minimum level of criteria before becoming an agent or attorney. Both must possess an engineering or a physical science degree and both must pass the patent bar exam, officially called the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This test is issued and administered by the USPTO.
Both can help you, as stated, but they may vary in fees, expertise, particular subject matters covered and a number of other factors. I can't tell you which to choose if you do opt to use a lawyer or attorney - this will be based on your budget and the meetings you have with each to see if it seems like a good match.
Laws give the USPTO the power to regulate, govern, and recognize patent attorneys and agents.
Attorneys or agents who are not registered with the USPTO are not permitted by law to represent inventors. Should you talk to an agent or attorney, be sure to confirm they are registered.
For the USPTO to accept an agent to their registry, that person, apart from passing the bar and having the legal, scientific, and technical qualifications necessary, must display good moral character and a solid reputation.
As a side note, the USPTO is not permitted to recommend an attorney or agent, or aid in the selection of an attorney or agent. If you're having trouble with selection or finding a partner, we can help you.
Do You Miss Out On Anything If You Hire A Patent Agent Instead Of An Attorney?
Both patent attorneys and patent agents are legally permitted to prepare a patent application with inventors and to conduct prosecution in the USPTO.
Patent agents, however, are not permitted to conduct patent litigation in the courts or perform certain services that the local jurisdiction considers as "practicing law". For example, a patent agent is not able to draw up a contract relating to a patent if the state in which he or she resides considers drafting contracts as practicing law. Remember, agents are not attorneys at law.
Benefits Of Hiring A Patent Agent Or Attorney
There are a number of reasons why you would serve yourself well to hire a patent attorney to protect your intellectual rights.
Most times, the benefits of hiring a patent attorney far outweigh the associated drawbacks. Some of these benefits include:
If Your Budget Doesn't Afford You A Patent Agent Or Attorney
Generally, the only drawback to hiring a patent attorney to help you file your patent application is the upfront costs.
Depending on your invention’s complexity, this cost can range anywhere from between $5,000 and $16,000.
While a patent may be obtained by an inventor who is not skilled in this work, there is really no assurance that the patent obtained would adequately protect the particular invention. The reason for this is that what you write on your patent actually becomes your patent.
Most inventors do employ a registered patent attorney or patent agent. If your budget does not afford you the luxury of an attorney, there are two other options:
Pitching your idea to receive funding for a lawyer is not an easy chore. It's an extra time-consuming step in the invention process. The best recommendation for those who cannot afford an agent but are seeking help with the patent application process is to get in touch with a company like ours - this is what we're here for.