You have had this fantastic idea for a new product.  You have done your worldwide patent search, your design and development work. Perhaps you’ve even made a prototype and are now ready to get protection. But who do you go to? A Patent Agent or a Patent Attorney?  Are they the same thing, but they just go by different names?The answer is yes and no.  Both Patent Agents and Patent Attorneys are registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as persons who are not attorneys at law (Patent Agent) and attorneys at law (Patent Attorney).  As far as the USPTO is concerned, both Patent Agents and Patent Attorneys are qualified in the preparing of a patent application and prosecution.

Defining Patent Agent vs. Patent Attorney

  • A Patent Agent is defined as “an agent or patent agent is someone who is not an attorney, but is authorized to act for or in place of someone applying for a patent or doing other business with the patent office.  The agent must be officially registered to conduct business with a patent office.”
  • A Patent Attorney is defined as “an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing an opposition.”

The main difference between the two is that a Patent Agent cannot conduct any litigation concerning patents either in the courts or perform various services that are considered practicing law by the local jurisdiction.  Another difference is the cost, which will vary due to the complexity of the patent.Whichever one you choose to go with, make sure to do you research and due diligence.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions like:

  • What’s the cost of a completed patent application from start to finish and what does this price include?
  • How do you bill and are there any out of pocket expenses?

They should be able to give you those, but if you feel that the Patent Agent or Attorney is not giving you satisfactory answers to your questions, then you may want to look further.  Again, make sure to do your due diligence and research to make sure they are the best fit for you.For Further Reading:

Should you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Jessica Vann, who works for Innovate Product Design. Innovate’s experts like Jessica are available to answer any questions you may have as well as helping you with your new product idea or invention.  You can reach her at 415-970-5276 or

The material in this website is commercially focused and generalized information and opinion about successfully working within the existing legal framework of Intellectual Property, patents and patent law; and should in no way be viewed or construed as legal advice. Advisors at Innovate are not and will not be lawyers unless this is specifically stated.