What is the difference between a Patent Attorney and a Patent Agent?

To protect and commercialize an invention, the inventor must get a patent for it in India (or abroad as well). To do so, one must traverse the complex path of patent filing and patent examination before attaining the promised land: a patent registration or grant. An inventor may choose to do so himself as no one is better acquainted with the invention than him. However, patents are interwoven with nuances of law and technology. Therefore, it is generally advised to hire a professional who is well-versed with the drafting patent specifications, infringement analysis, deadlines, patentability requirements, forms, fees etc. Moreover, it is very important to hire an excellent Patent Attorney or a Patent Agent as an incorrect choice may result in loss of your effort, competitive edge, right to stop infringing parties, revenue, an idea.

Registered Patent Attorney or Registered Patent Agent

Generally, both the terms Registered Patent Attorney and Registered Patent Agent are used interchangeably. However, there are significant differences between a Registered Patent Attorney and a Registered Patent Agent. Although Registered Patent Agent can perform most of the basic functions related to patents, the legal exposure of the Registered Patent Attorney provides him with a better understanding of the law and patent drafting since Patents are Techno-legal documents thereby requires a balance between law and technology. Additionally, it is also important to know that how to choose the Best Registered Patent Attorney or Registered Patent agent as there are many Patent professionals.

Similarities between Registered Patent Attorneys and Registered Patent Agents

  • Technical Degree such as B.Sc., B.Tech., M.Tech. etc
  • Qualified the Patent Agent Examination. You should note that their names must be in the list of Registered Patent Agents published on the Indian Patent Office Website.
  • Provide advice related to Patentability of the Invention.
  • Draft & File Patent Applications.
  • Can respond to examination reports received from Indian patent office.
  • Can appear for a hearing before the Controller of Patents.

Differences between Registered Patent Attorneys and Registered Patent Agents

Based on the above similarities you may think that the registered patent agent can perform all services required for filing a patent and patent registration or patent grant. However, the difference lies in how they achieve patent registration or grant of a patent. We do not say or claim that Registered Patent Agents cannot get a grant of a good patent, but it is the legal exposure of the Registered Patent Attorney which may make a difference during the whole process of the prosecution to achieve better success.

We emphasize on the fact that “getting a patent grant is easy but getting a good patent grant is difficult”. Getting a bad patent would be like having a blunt sword. As the aim of the patent is to stop third parties from infringement of your invention whereas bad patents fail miserably at that.

  • Only Registered Patent Attorneys have attended law school and hold an additional Law Degree which provides them with an edge in the Techno-legal process of Patents.
  • Only Registered Patent Attorneys can send Legal Notices if there is a potential infringement of your patent.
  • Only Registered Patent Attorneys can appear in Court of Law in case of Infringement.
  • It is preferable to work with a Registered Patent Attorney, if you need any legal advice for Infringement, Licensing or Commercialization of your Patent and related Agreements

Therefore, Registered Patent Agent and Registered Patent Attorney can perform most of the functions related to patents. However, there are some potential advantages of a Registered Patent Attorney. Had this been not the case, a lot of Patent Professionals would not be pursuing or aspiring to complete their Law degree after becoming a Registered Patent Agent.

Frequently asked questions

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