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Who can prepare a patent application?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office requires that the representative of the inventor before the Office be admitted to practice before the Patent and Trademark Office. Persons who seek to become admitted are required to have a 4 year college engineering degree and a technical background. Engineers can study patent law and become admitted to practice before the Patent Office by preparing for (studying patent law statues and patent practice), then sitting for and passing the ‘Patent Bar’ exam.

While a degreed engineer need not have a law school degree to be admitted to practice before the PTO, the PTO requires that an attorney have an engineering degree and technical background to be admitted to patent practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. An attorney without a technical degree can not be admitted to patent practice before the USPTO. This, of course, limits the pool rather substantially, and makes patent attorneys one of the highest compensated class of attorneys. Likewise, 37 CFR 10.31 does not allow patent agents to practice in trademark law before the USPTO, this being open only to attorneys. Patent Agencies, such as Invent Help, are limited to patent case preparation, filing of patent applications, oaths, declarations assignments and prosecution of the patent application before the Patent Office.

The pass rate for the bar exam is rather low, usually around 30% (60 to 70% of all aspiring patent attorneys and patent agents fail the exam and are not admitted to practice). As more attorneys take the bar exam than agents, numerically more attorneys fail than agents. If one fails the patent bar, one can return to concentrated study of patent law statutes and procedure in preparation for the exam and retake the exam.

There are many patent practitioners and agencies, such as InventHelp, to choose from, so you are advised to shop around. The Patent Office maintains a public list of all practitioners who are admitted to practice before the patent office. The list is easily available from the Patent Office website ‘www.uspto.gov’. The list contains names, addresses and phone numbers. Some of the listed patent attorneys and agents work solely inside corporations and may not be available for private outside work, while others are available independently.