Patent Agents have passed the Registration Examination with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Patent Attorneys have passed the Registration Examination with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and have also been admitted to the state bar as an attorney for at least one state. Patent agents will typically charge less than patent attorneys but they also are more likely to have less education and training. Using a patent agent is certainly much better than doing it by yourself but many would argue that they might not be able to help you with everything that you need and/or might not do as good of a job. These are generalizations and, therefore, there will be cases where they will be false.
Answer Applies to: Utah
A patent attorney is someone who has a background in science or engineering, has attended law school and passed a state bar exam, and has taken and passed the USPTO patent examination. A patent agent doesn't have the law degree but has the science/engineering background and has passed the patent examination.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Both a Patent Attorney and a Patent Agent are licensed by the US Patent office to prepare, file and argue patent applications with the patent office. A Patent Attorney is also licensed in at least one state to sue people for patent infringement. Generally both are equally competent to prepare and file your patent application. Patent Agents tend to be less expensive.
Answer Applies to: California
A patent agent is a technically trained person - who has passed the Patent Bar Examination. Typically a patent agent is trained as a scientist or engineer - and has at least a bachelor's degree in that field. The Patent Bar Examination is administered by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) - www.uspto.gov. The exam tests legal knowledge of the US and PCT systems - as well as regulations and requirements regarding patent preparation and prosecution. Patent Agents can ONLY act before the USPTO - they can do nothing else - no licensing, no litigation, etc. Patent Attorneys do everything that a Patent Agent does - but they must pass BOTH the Patent Bar Examination and at least one State Bar Examination. Patent Attorneys attend law school as well as having the training required to be a Patent Agent. The law school training makes them a regular attorney - they can handle anything that they have the skill and training to handle. Passing the Patent Bar Examination allows them to handle all aspects of patent work. Patent Agents usually charge less than a Patent Attorney. GOOD LUCK!
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts