Technical Professionals for the Patent Industry™

Blog by Ron Penaflor

7 Things You Should Know About Working with an Independent Patent Agent

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Introduction: I am continually amazed by how little some people know about patent agents and how they can help inventors, small businesses, and startups with many patent services. This article provides some tips on who patent agent are and how to find, work with, and hire them for patent services.

When it comes to patenting an invention, most inventors think of patent attorneys, but very few inventors know about patent agents.  Inventors generally have three options for obtaining patents.  These options include: 1) working with a patent attorney; 2) doing it themselves (DIY patents); or 3) working with patent agents.   Patent agents are a great middle ground and alternative for inventors who need a qualified patent practitioners other than patent attorneys.  This article covers who patent agents are,  where to find them, what patent services they provide, and how to hire or work with them on patent projects.

1)  Role of Patent Agents

In short, a patent agent is a patent practitioner who is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and may prepare and draft patent applications, file patent application, respond to office actions, and may act as a legal representative on behalf of their clients before the USPTO.

2)  Where do Patent Agents work?

The primary places where you'll find patent agents employed include:

  1. Law Firms
  2. Corporations
  3. Universities
  4. Government institutions
  5. Sole proprietor patent services businesses

3)  Do Patent Agents work with directly inventors and startups?

Most patent agents who work full-time at a law firm, corporation, or universities are not accessible or available to the general public due to conflicts with their employer or lack of time due to their busy work schedule.

However, independent patent agents are sole practitioners who operate independently from other businesses, providing direct services to inventors, startups, or other businesses.

4)  What services can patent agents provide to inventors and startups?

Patent Agents are allowed to

  • meet with inventors to discuss and evaluate their invention disclosures
  • assess if an invention is patentable
  • perform prior art searches (aka, novelty searches)
  • prepare and draft patent applications, including a full specification, claims, and drawings
  • file patent applications with the USPTO
  • file and prepare foreign filing (PCT) applications
  • prosecute patent applications, including preparing responses to office actions from the USPTO
  • act as a legal representative on behalf of their clients before the USPTO

 

5)  Where can I find an Independent Patent Agent?

Search for patent agents on the web and you will likely find the USPTO's roster of patent practitioners as the top result to find patent practitioners.  Though useful for verifying the status and profile of a patent practitioner, it is essentially useless for determining if the patent practitioner is an independent agent, since 1) the USPTO's website lacks information regarding the business structure of the patent practitioner; and 2) there are over 40k practitioners to choose from, making the task of finding an independent agent cumbersome and very time consuming.

The ONLY website which offers up-to-date information on independent patent agents is iP TECH PROS Inc. This is an exclusive website which promotes independent patent agents and some patent researchers, excluding patent attorneys.  Also, all independent patent agents who have profiles on this site are vetted and verified registered patent agents.

 

6)  Are all Independent Patent Agents the same?

The answer is Yes and No. 

Yes. Because, in order to be a  patent agent they must be registered with the USPTO.

No. Because patent agents specialize in different technology fields and may offer different types of patent services to their clients.  For example, one patent agent may only specialize and support clients who have software inventions, while another patent agent may only accept clients who have chemistry-related inventions.  

Thus, finding a patent agent who meets the requirements of your specific type of invention is akin to finding the right doctor who specializes in the symptoms you seek to have properly diagnosed, treated, and  resolved.

7)  Tips for Choosing and Working with an Independent Patent Agent

  1. Search for patent agents on the iP TECH PROS site
  2. Review profiles of potential patent agents who are specialized in the same field as your invention and who can offer patent services you seek
  3. In their profile, click on their registration number to verify they are still active patent agents.
  4. Contact them at the phone number provided on their profile to schedule a free consultation meeting.
  5. During the first consultation meeting, ask the patent agent for pricing information, typical delivery schedule of the patent services you seek, and their area of expertise relative to your invention.
  6. Before hiring the patent agent, make sure all terms of services, pricing, and delivery dates of all patent services are in writing and provided in a contract to which you fully agree and understand. 

 

Category : Patent Agents

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