Da Vinci Partners LLC is a Swiss-based international intellectual property firm applying expertise in global patent, trademark and copyright law to help the Da Vincis of the World: the individual inventors, startups, and tech companies of all sizes, succeed in the often complex process of developing and launching ingenious solutions to their customers' problems. Da Vinci Partners, partners to global innovators. Request a free cost estimate for any number of our services
English  EN French  FR Germand  DE Germand  IT Chinese  CN Korean  KR Japanese  JP

About Us
Areas of Practice
Our People
Our Offices
Frequent Questions
US Patent FAQ
Contact Us
Recommended Companies


  English Flyer
  Chinese Flyer

+41 712 301 000


About Da Vinci Partners Call +41 71 230 1000 to speak to a Patent or Trademark Practitioner or email us

U.S. Patent Practitioners: Attorneys and Agents

The term 'patent practitioner' broadly refers to patent agents and patent attorneys. Patent practitioners have met the minimum legal, scientific, and technical requirements of the Patent Office, have passed a patent bar exam, and, in addition, have agreed to uphold a standard of professional conduct. In order to maintain his standing before the Patent Office, the patent practitioner has agreed to keep his client's invention confidential, and not to take any personal benefit from his knowledge of his client's invention, disclosing it to others only when necessary to effectively represent his client.

In addition to meeting the qualifications which the Patent Office requires of patent agents, the US patent attorney must have earned a law degree from an accredited university, and have passed an intensive state bar examination and an ethics examination. Further, the FBI must perform a background check on the attorney-candidate, and a state bar committee must approve the attorney-candidate's application to practice law. Still further, the State Bar Association requires that the patent attorney continue his legal education through attending seminars and conferences on recent developments in the law. Only when the attorney-candidate has met all these requirements, does the attorney-candidate become a US patent attorney.

The above differences in qualifications between patent attorneys and patent agents are significant. From a practical standpoint, patent attorneys-at-law are familiar with courtroom procedure, case law, and tactics used to enforce your patent after it issues. The patent attorney may represent you in law suits against infringers, or in drafting license agreements with manufacturers. In contrast, the state bar rules and federal law prohibit a patent agent from providing many of the services which patent attorneys routinely provide (such as those discussed above). The patent agent may, however, do anything which the Patent Office considers necessary to obtain a patent for you. In addition, he may provide general advice concerning copyrights, trademarks, and license agreements. [A patent agent may provide advice on copyrights and trademarks only to the extent necessary for his client to determine whether the client should seek patent protection]. Therefore, if merely obtaining a patent is all you seek, hiring a patent agent may be significantly less expensive than hiring a patent attorney. In addition, hiring a patent agent is almost always a better choice than trying to write, file, and prosecute a patent application yourself. However, if you seek an enforceable patent, then using a patent attorney is almost always the best choice. The patent attorney is aware of some of the common pitfalls of the court system. He or she is generally much more capable of structuring your patent application to avoid these pitfalls. In addition, a patent application is both a legal and a technical document. As such, a patent application is difficult to write properly. Because a patent attorney is trained in both technical and legal writing, he or she is better equipped to write these difficult legal documents.

[FN: Although they have a right to refer to themselves using the English word "attorney", European Patent Attorneys are patent agents and not attorneys-at-law. This does not mean they are generally not well trained -- they are. It's just that they do not have the formal legal education required to be an attorney-at-law. Therefore it may be best to have European patent litigation managed by a European attorney-at-law, while the technical aspects be handled by your European patent agent (mandataire or patentanwalt)]

Click here to be sure your US patent attorney is licensed.

Back to FAQ

Ask for Our Preliminary Advice
Complete below only with non-confidential information please understand that by submitting this request, you are not becoming a client of our firm and that our advice provided by us by means of this webpage or by email response to your inquiry is preliminary at best and should not be relied upon
I'm interested in a
Patent   Copyright   Trademark   Patent Search   Litigation
Phone (optional)

Phone Us +4171 230 1000, Fax Us +4171 230 1001 or EMAIL US
No-obligation Cost Estimate | About Us | Our People | Our Offices | Fields of Practice | News | Articles
Da Vinci Partners LLC, offering DA VINCI*™ services, for global leaders in innovation.
Offering ®** legal, ® and ®*** services, for our clients active in China.
*service mark covering our legal and IP services, including IP valuation services registered in Switzerland, Europe, the USA, and Canada, other countries/regions pending.
** service marks covering legal services and IP services on Chinese IP issues, registered in Switzerland, Europe, Korea, and the USA
*** service marks covering IP services involving China, registered in China, Switzerland, and the USA