Patent Agent: Everything You Need to Know
A patent agent has passed the patent bar at the USPTO and is registered to organize, submit, and prosecute patent functions representing his or her customers. 3 min read
Who are Patent Agents?
A patent agent is anyone who has taken and passed the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent Bar exam. They are also registered with the USPTO to create, file, and defend patent applications on their client’s behalf. Most inventions have some engineering or science elements, therefore, patent agents are also required to have a background in one of those fields before they can take the Patent Bar exam.
To become a patent agent, one must complete a full checklist of paperwork, submit the required fees, and meet all submission deadlines.
What’s the Patent Bar?
Each patent agent and attorney must take and pass an extremely difficult test known as the patent bar exam. Its official name is the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but patent bar is a more common term.
The examination consists of 100, multiple-choice questions and lasts for six hours. It’s divided into two three-hour sections with 50 questions in the morning and 50 questions after lunch. There are also 10 questions among the 100 that are not counted toward the score, but the test takers are not aware which 10 questions those are.
To pass this test, the applicant must score a 70 percent or higher, which equates to 63 out of the graded 90 questions.
Patent Bar Disqualifications
Some people are not eligible to take the patent bar as a patent lawyer or agent. If within the past two years you have been convicted of a crime, you cannot take the patent bar. If following a two-year sentence, you don’t show proof of rehabilitation and reform, you also do not qualify to take the patent bar. Additionally, people who have been disbarred, lack moral character, or are being reprimanded for other disciplinary actions, may be ineligible to sit for the patent bar exam.
What Does a Patent Agent Do?
A patent distinguishes rights of intellectual property, making it unlawful for anybody else to reproduce, market, promote, or use your invention without your permission. Seeking help from somebody who knows the intricacies of patent law can help save you a lot of time, money, and other resources. You can certainly apply for a patent on your own, but acquiring the help of a professional is strongly advised.
A patent examiner can sometimes ship you an inventory of rejections, which include objects that have to be altered or changed to ensure that your patent will be approved. Your patent agent may help you deal with these objects or dispute the rejections. A patent agent’s fee will depend on many things, like the complexity of the invention and the industry within which you operate. Typically the cost can range up to $20,000.
Where Can You Find Patent Agents?
A patent agent can be employed for a law firm or within the authorized division of a large company or technological startup. Moreover, they can work independently or can find a job at the USPTO as a patent examiner.
How Many Patent Agents Are There?
Statistics from the USPTO as of November 2013 show enrollment of 42,502 active patent practitioners, consisting of 31,638 patent attorneys and 10,864 patent agents in the U.S.
How Much Can A Patent Agent Earn?
The American Intellectual Property Law Associations' Report of the Economic Survey 2013 noted that the average salary for patent agents at a personal agency with less than five years’ of expertise was $92,250, and those of the first to third year vary from $55,500 to $126,250.
What Is a Patent Agent or Patent Attorney?
Whether or not you're a patent agent or patent lawyer, you typically perform identical roles. Patent agents and patent attorneys each have a degree in engineering or science, and so they must review the patent guidelines, patent laws, and the way the patent office works. The most important distinction between a patent agent and a patent attorney is that an attorney has also graduated from a law school, passed the legal bar, and has the flexibility to practice law in a number of states within the U.S.
If you need a patent agent, you can post your job on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.