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Why should inventors go to a patent attorney?

As an inventor you know the scientific and technical knowledge involved in your invention. However, the preparation of a patent application and conducting proceedings with any patent office requires an understanding of patent law, patent rules and the patent office's practices and procedures. The knowledge that a patent attorney has.

The first step

The first step is to understand that the very nature of patenting an invention means that you have to come up with something unique. This can be challenging, as the description of what makes an invention unique, and the law is only getting more and more complicated.

What are the benefits of using a patent attorney?

Many inventors believe that they have something distinctive and unique and that the application process will only take a few hours, they are very much mistaken. Patent applications can be complex and stressful if taken on without the support of a patent attorney.

If you have taken a look at other patents in your area of invention you will notice that there are a lot of text, a number of drawings and the entire document is often largely incomprehensible by anyone not thoroughly marinated in the intricacies of patent law. Especially if you are dealing with a sophisticated electronic device or a piece of software.  As a firm, we try to write patent applications in a manner that is clear, concise and understandable, but despite this we are hemmed in by the various Patent Office rules of presentation and decades of legal precedents on how what we write is to be interpreted.

With a lot of purchases and with no exception patent applications you will always get what you pay for. There is no doubt that by buying in the services of a patent attorney they will ensure your patent application is prepared and processed accurately and efficiently.

When you appoint a patent attorney as your representative, the patent office will not communicate with you directly but will conduct all correspondence directly to your patent attorney. Although you can still contact your patent office directly for an update on your application.

What is the difference between patent attorneys and patent agents?

In the UK, none whatsoever.  We used to be known as patent agents, but are now increasingly known as patent attorneys. 

In the US, there are two kinds of professionals that are licensed to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office, known as patent attorneys and patent agents. Both can prepare and file patent applications, but a patent attorney is an attorney-at-law who specialises in patent work, and they can provide infringement opinions and represent you in court.  Patent agents are not attorneys-at-law, and as such, cannot conduct patent litigation in the courts or perform certain other services which are considered by the local jurisdiction as practicing law.  Most however highly skilled at working before the USPTO.

How do I know I have a reputable patent attorney?

UK patent attorneys should be registered with IPReg (Intellectual Property Regulation Board). As written on the IPReg website, this means:

  • to qualify, attorneys have had to complete a rigorous examination and training programme and have to do at least 16 hours further professional training every year
  • the attorney and organisations are subject to our code of professional conduct
  • your work will be protected by professional indemnity insurance
  • you can complain to them


For confidential, professional advice regarding Patent applications please contact Downing IP on 01494 422626 or email

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