A licensing agent is a patent agent that is licensed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to assist individuals in all areas of the patent application process. Licensed patent agents in specific jurisdictions can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/. A licensed patent agent can assist with the application process but cannot represent an individual in court, should the need arise. Patent agents have backgrounds in areas such as electrical engineering, chemistry, mechanical engineering, pharmacology or some other science.
Patent agents are often highly specialized in a particular field of patent law and are decidedly less expensive than attorneys. Patent agents frequently have as much knowledge as patent attorneys when it comes to filing the patent application, and the outcome with a patent agent is generally just as good as with an attorney for applications that are relatively straight-forward and do not require any litigation or court time.
A patent attorney can serve to both assist during the patent application process as well as represent an applicant in court if the need arises. Patent attorneys tend to be specialized in patent law and generally can be a valuable asset during the entire application process. If any litigation need presents itself, having an attorney on hand who has intimate knowledge of the case can be the difference between success and failure with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).
As with any relationship where confidential information will be exchanged, patent agent agreements should include a non-disclosure provision to protect the intellectual property of the inventor. Agent agreements should also stipulate the nature of the agent/inventor relationship, disclose pricing agreements and set a timeline for the filing of an application. The agreement should also stipulate that in the event that a matter concerning the patent goes to trial or needs to be litigated, the patent agent will not be able to assist the inventor and the inventor will need to hire a separate attorney.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many marketing firms advertise that they are in the business of marketing products on behalf of inventors; however, these businesses are often nothing more than marketing scams. The reality is that these “marketing firms” will require high monthly payments in exchange for their “marketing services” or will require an upfront fee followed by payment installments. The statistics show that such firms do very little, if anything, to actually market the products of investors, and boast a success rate of less than 1% overall. To avoid marketing scams, make sure to only utilize the services of reputable industry professionals, and be weary of businesses that promise you huge result for a low monthly fee.