New inventors often have many questions on what road they should take in getting their idea patented. Which is the best way to go? Who will best serve my needs? Here we will explore the difference between both a Patent Attorney and a Patent Agent.
The Role of a Patent Attorney
A Patent Attorney has a background in the study of either science or engineering and has passed the Patent Bar Examination. He or she has the capability of providing the following services:
- Drafts patent applications
- Negotiates settlements
- Manages patent litigation
- Analyzes rejections of patents and prepares responses to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)…This is also known as patent prosecution.
While using an attorney is an integral part of being awarded a patent for an idea, there are several details still involved in applying for a patent. Part of the patent application process includes submitting a detailed description and drawing of the invention one is looking to patent. An attorney may be able to provide contact information for a reputable technical artist but this service may come at a high price.
The Role of a Patent Agent
A Patent Agent is not required to have an education in science or engineering but is required to have passed the Patent Bar Examination. They not only work as a liaison between the client and the Patent Attorney, but may also work with several other contractors (such as engineers, graphic designers, marketing specialists, etc.), to provide the inventor with additional options to help promote their invention to manufacturers and ultimately to the marketplace. Some of these options include:
- Detailed drawings and text (to be submitted with the patent application)
- Technical drawings (also included with the patent application and usually provided by an experienced mechanical engineer), allows for greater chance of initial patent approval
- Marketing information (usually provided by a marketing firm that outlines invention details that include information on who the invention would best be marketed to – this information is also helpful to a potential manufacturer)
- Submission of the patent application by a patent lawyer working with the patent agent
- Also provides clients with a contact list of potential manufacturers that may have the capability to manufacture their invention.
Before the inventor applies for a patent, the patent agent may conduct a patent search to ensure the invention has not already been patented. Also, after the client receives their patent, they may still work closely with the agent to help get their invention in front of the right people. The majority of patents filed by new inventors are provisional patents, which are one year patents. Agents may also help an inventor refile their patent for additional years.
While the process of being awarded a patent may take longer than using an attorney only, an inventor can rest assured that every detail of their invention is being examined to be best presented for its success in the marketplace. An experienced patent agent may also act as a creative source in suggestions for getting an invention out to the public using non-traditional means. For example, they may provide information on who to contact to create an attractive website promoting the invention, or be able to provide tradeshow information where the invention may be demonstrated to the right audience.
Whatever route an inventor may take for the success of their invention, it is important to be sure that their life’s dream is being properly presented to the appropriate parties, ranging from the USPTO to potential manufacturers.