Patent attorney

From Academic Kids

A patent attorney, also known as a patent agent, and sometimes known as a patent lawyer if qualified as a lawyer, is a person who is qualified to act in matters involving patent law and practice.


Qualification regimes


To become a registered patent agent in Canada one must first complete a twelve-month mentorship training program as well as complete a qualifying exam. Once certified, a registered patent agent is given powers under the Canadian Patent Act to represent applicants applying to the Patent Office to obtain patent protection.


In Europe one must be admitted to practice before the European Patent Office as a representative, or in some jurisdictions, before the relevant national Patent Office.

In order to practice before the EPO as a registered professional representative or European Patent Attorney, it is necessary to pass a pencil-and-paper examination - the European qualifying examination or EQE. In addition, an engineering or scientific degree is required (though a long experience in a scientific domain can be sufficient under certain conditions) and at least three years of practice in the domain of national or European patent law.

The European Patent Convention (EPC) precisely specifies in which case it is required to be represented a professional representative in proceedings (Art. 133 ( EPC). Effectively, a representative is required if all the applicants for a patent do not have a place of business in an EPC contracting state. The contracting states to the EPC may also have additional requirements.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a series of exams [Foundation Papers followed by Advanced Papers] one must pass in order to be entered on the Register of Patent Agents. The examinations can be retaken and an exemption to the Foundation Exams can be gained by completing certain 3-month Intellectual Property courses. This gives the successful candidate right to call themselves a Registered Patent Attorney or Registered Patent Agent; the terms are synonymous in the UK. Membership of the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents as a fellow gives the right to call oneself a Chartered Patent Agent or Chartered Patent Attorney. Note that there is no restriction on representation, merely the terms listed; however any applicant for a Patent must give an address for service within the United Kingdom or Isle of Man.

United States

In the United States, practitioners may either be a patent attorney or patent agent. A patent attorney is admitted to practice before at least one court, while a patent agent is not so qualified. However, both types of practitioners may practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Legal ethics rules prohibit lawyers from using the title "patent attorney" unless they are admitted to practice before the USPTO.

In order to be registered as a patent agent, one must pass the USPTO registration examination, a 100-question, multiple-choice test. The required score to pass is 70%. In the legal community, the examination is frequently and inaccurately referred to as the patent bar. It is not necessary to have a law degree to sit for the exam; indeed, it is not necessary to have even taken a course in law. However, the USPTO requires that all candidates for registration have a background in one of the "hard sciences". This requirement is typically met with a bachelor's degree in a field such as chemistry, physics, biology, or engineering.

Before June 2004, the USPTO registration exam was a pencil-and-paper test given at approximately 15 locations around the country. The USPTO has moved to a computer-based examination, which can be taken on any business day at any of several hundred locations around the country. Once applicants have been approved to sit for the exam, they have 90 days in which to schedule an examination date with the USPTO contractor that administers the exam. The pencil-and-paper test is still offered once a year at the USPTO's office. The examination is "open-book" and is intended to measure the applicant's familiarity with USPTO procedures, ethics rules, federal statutes and regulations. A large number of questions typically deal with the proper drafting and handling of a US patent application or international application.

Law students who pass the registration exam and become admitted as patent agents before admission to the bar are allowed to change registration to patent attorney upon supplying USPTO with proof of admission.

Notable patent attorneys

Fictional characters who are patent attorneys

See also

External links


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