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What is a Registered Patent Agent?

Most inventors employ the services of registered patent agents or patent attorneys. Federal law gives the Patent and Trademark Office the power to make rules and regulations governing conduct and the recognition of patent agents and attorneys to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To be admitted to this register, a patent agent must comply with the regulations prescribed by the Office, which require a showing that the agent is of good moral character and of good repute and that he/she has the legal, and scientific and technical qualifications necessary to render applicants for patents a valuable service. Certain of these qualifications must be demonstrated by the passing of a rigorous examination. Those admitted to the examination must have a college degree in engineering or physical science or the equivalent of such a degree. Insofar as the work of preparing an application for a patent and conducting the prosecution before the Patent and Trademark Office is concerned, registered patent agents are just as well qualified as patent attorneys.

Employing a Registered Patent Agent

By employing a patent attorney or agent, the inventor or assignee executes an authorization of agent (similar to a power of attorney) which must be filed in the Patent and Trademark Office and is usually filed as a part of the application papers. When an agent has been appointed, the Office does not communicate with the inventor directly but conducts the correspondence with the agent, although the inventor is always free to contact the Patent and Trademark Office concerning the status of his/her application. The inventor may remove the agent by simply revoking the authorization of agent.

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