What is The Difference Between a Patent Attorney and an Agent?


It takes great dedication to come up with an invention. Sometimes, all this can go to waste if you don’t take the necessary precautions to claim and protect your work.

Opportunists will swoop in and try to swindle you off your work. Others might steal it and claim it as their own. Hence the need for legal protection that recognizes you as the rightful inventor, and prevents others from copying and trading it without your permission.

This is where a patent comes in. Here are more details about the topic. Also, check out Tatonetti IP for more details.

What is a patent?

It is basically a lawful protection accorded to an inventor on their work, acknowledging them as the owner and ensuring that only they have the right to manipulate and distribute it as they see fit.

It thus protects them from people who would like to benefit from their invention unlawfully. The document has to be drafted carefully in accordance with both the law and the inventor’s needs.

As such, there is need for a law expert who specifically deals with patents to help with this. Thus comes in the patent attorney and agent.

What distinguishes the two professionals?

The two are almost the same except for their qualifications which in turn affects the extent of their jurisdiction. A patent agent is an expert who has a technical degree hence scientific knowledge in areas such as technology and engineering and has also passed the Patent Bar Examination.

Therefore, they can file applications and advise clients on the relevant issues exclusive of legal advice. A patent attorney on the other hand must have a degree in both technical field and law in addition to passing the bar exams.

Consequently, they are well placed to handle legal matters pertaining to the patent. They can give legal advice and provide representation in litigation matters. Furthermore, they enjoy attorney-client privilege as opposed to agents. See this link to know when it’s best to hire a patent attorney https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232119.

How do you choose the right one?

While it is evident that the attorney is more knowledgeable than the agent on matters of law, it does not make them the best to handle all situations. For instance, the latter charges less fee than the former hence is a good choice when you are on a low budget.

Their work is mainly to draft the application and file it with the office. Sometimes this might be all you require. Other times, the process might be complicated with a lot of issues arising.

Such a scenario is best handled by the attorney since they are well acquainted with the legal system and can provide several services. This saves you the effort of hopping from one professional to another for their expertise.

Here are some guidelines to make sure that you choose the one who will serve you best.

  • Check for their experience level

Whether in court or outside, a well-experienced professional will serve you better than a newbie. With experience comes more knowledge that is not taught in schools but can only be learned at the job. You should ask them how long they have been in practice before committing to them.

  • Find out the services offered

You should make sure that whoever you choose is able to provide the services that you need. Since an agent is only capable of providing limited services, it is wise to go for the attorney in comprehensive cases that might involve lawsuits. This will make your work easier than looking for one later on when things get out of hand.

  • Ask to see the certification documents

Only individuals who have met the legal requirements stated above are allowed to operate. If it is found that your document was drafted and filed by unauthorized personnel then it will be nullified. You must ensure that the person you are dealing with has met all the requirements and is recognized by the state as a legal practitioner. Ask to see their credentials and verify their validity. You can do this by checking them up online from the relevant official website.

  • Find out the price

Firms charge differently depending on their policies and services. You should ask for their rates and get acquainted with their payment policies to know how much you will be paying. Price usually goes hand-in-hand with quality hence you might benefit from low prices in the short term but end up losing in the long run. Go for what you can afford but make sure they are up to the task.

  • Check the reviews

One good way to determine the reputation of the firm is to get information from previous customers. Thankfully, you don’t have to track down the customers to ask them how the service was. You can just read the reviews they leave behind on the firm’s website. This will let you in on what to expect. Click here to see a few tips on how you can get yourself the right patent attorney.


Both an attorney and an agent can help you get a patent for your invention. The difference is that the latter can only draft and file your application but cannot represent you in legal proceedings. The former on the other hand has a vast knowledge of the law hence can advise you accordingly and help you with other legalities. For this reason, the attorney will charge you higher than the agent. To avoid incurring double costs, most people opt for an attorney from the beginning. This is because at some point in the future you are likely to need legal representation.

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