Hiring patent lawyers can help inventors to gain the best protection of their intellectual property. The patent process is complex and filing without the help of a qualified attorney (pro se) will often result in wasted time and money.
Admittedly, hiring patent lawyers can cost a significant amount, but inventors need to weigh this cost with risks of mistakes and problems if they were to do it themselves.
Small mistakes in filing can draw out the process and even lead to a loss of patent rights in some case. Many inventors who file pro se end up scrambling to hire patent lawyers at the last minute when they hit some major snags, but in some cases it is already too late to undo the damage.
That’s why the best advice is to invest in a top quality patent attorney early on the process and avoid the hassles. Because patents are used not only for legal protection but also as a tool for attracting investment and for marketing purposes, investing in a good patent lawyer can be an important business decision for any entrepreneur or company.
Inventors and entrepreneurs do have the option, however, of choosing between hiring patent lawyers and patent agents. The major difference between patent lawyers and patent agents is that patent lawyers are admitted to practice before at least one state court in the US and the USPTO, while patent agents are admitted to practice before the USPTO only. Most patent practitioners in the US today are patent lawyers.
Patent agents tend to be people who have not gone to law school but possess strong scientific or technical backgrounds. Many of these are admitted to law school as well. Sometimes attorneys who are not admitted to practice before the USPTO are labelled as patent attorneys because they are representing parties in some intellectual property litigation. However, they may lack a technical background.