• Patent attorneys and patent agents both help inventors process patent applications, but only attorneys can represent inventors in litigation or legal transactions.

    The Role of Patent Attorneys

    Attorneys can advise you about the patentability of your invention, prepare the application, and interact with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on your behalf. Only registered patent attorneys may conduct patent litigation in the courts.

    The Role of Patent Agents

    Agents can do everything attorneys can do except represent you in patent-related litigation or conduct other activities considered the practice of law, such as writing a contract related to a patent.

    Attorney and Agent Qualifications

    Prospective patent attorneys and agents must demonstrate good moral character and possess the necessary scientific and technical skills and (for attorneys) the legal skills to provide inventors a valuable service. Both sets of professionals are equally qualified to process your application according to the USPTO.

    Finding a Registered Attorney or Agent

    Go to to search for registered patent attorneys or agents nearby. This link is available in the References section of this article.

    Do I Really Need Help?

    The complex patent application process requires both procedural and subject-matter expertise. Errors can delay obtaining a patent or result in a patent that fails to prevent others from marketing and selling your invention. While it is possible to process an application without professional assistance, the USPTO recommends against it.


    US Patent and Trademark Office, "General Information Concerning Patents"

    USPTO, "Patent Agents/Attorneys Search"

    USPTO, general Info Concerning Patent Agents and Attorneys

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