Hi.  My name is Mark Trenner.  I’m a patent attorney.  I started my law firm, the Trenner Law Firm, in 2004, that is over 10 years now that I’ve been helping individual inventors, small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs protect their inventions by filing patent applications.  In the over fifteen years now that I’ve been registered with the US Patent office, I’ve written hundreds of patent applications.

Today I’m here to answer your question, what is a patent agent.  Is there a difference between a patent agent and a patent attorney?  There is a difference.   There is actually a big difference.  Patent agents and patent attorneys are both licensed by the US Patent office.  You are either licensed as a patent agent or you’re licensed as a patent attorney.  Way back in 1998, I was registered with the patent office as a patent agent.  Why?  Because I have an engineering degree, I have the technical background and I took and passed the patent bar exam so they admitted me to practice at the patent office as a patent agent.  I was at law school at the time and then when I graduated law school I took the state bar exam here in Colorado, I passed and became an attorney, but because I was also licensed with the patent office, then they registered me as a patent attorney.  You can practice as a patent agent without a law degree but now what that means is, as a patent agent, you can’t practice law.  What’s practicing law and what’s writing patent applications?  You can write patent applications and file them in the patent office.  You can even work with the examiners toward issuing it is as a patent.  That’s not practicing law. But you can’t give legal advice as a patent agent.  So, you can’t do an infringement or a non-infringement opinion as a patent agent.  You can’t file trademark applications, you can’t negotiate or write licenses or assignments of those patents.  So, if you’re a small business and think you might want to do any of those things or even if you’re an individual inventor and think you might want to license your invention, you might consider working with a patent attorney right from the start because a patent attorney can do everything an agent can do plus give you legal advice.  A patent agent can only practice before the patent office.  They cannot give you any legal advice. 

My name is Mark Trenner.  I’m a registered patent attorney.  I started as a patent agent but I’ve been registered as an attorney now since 1999.  I hope that I answered your question today of what is a patent agent and what’s the difference between an agent and an attorney.

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