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What is a Patent Agent?


Patent law is distinct from other areas of law practice. To represent others before the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in patent cases, a practitioner must have passed the Patent Bar exam. A degree in a science or engineering discipline is required to qualify for this exam. Those who pass the exam and do not hold a Juris Doctorate (JD) are patent agents, those with a JD are patent attorneys. Thus, an ordinary attorney is not qualified to practice patent law (unless they are a patent attorney), but a patent agent is.

Patent agents and attorneys are equally qualified to consult and give advice as a client contemplates whether to seek patent protection on an invention. Likewise, patent attorneys and agents have the same qualifications/license to prepare patent applications; respond to USPTO communications; make arguments to the USPTO for the patentability of a claimed invention; and file amendments, appeals, etc.

Patent agents are not authorized to practice other areas of the law. Green Mountain Innovations has close relationships with several law firms which can provide legal services such as new business formation, patent infringement litigation, etc. Similar GMI relationships also enable patent prosecution in foreign (non-US) countries.

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Alan Coté
Registered Patent Agent
Williston, VT
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