The difference between a Patent Lawyer and a Patent Agent is in the degree of expertise and the range of practice of the individual.

Patent Agent

In order to become a Patent Agent, an individual must gain expertise in the field of Patents and Trademarks by interning (practicum placement) at a Patent Office. Once an individual has worked as a trainee with a Patent Office, they are eligible to take the Patent Agent Qualifying Examination which tests them in the areas of drafting patents, validity, office practice and infringement. Upon passing the examination, the individual is allowed to practice as a Patent Agent which allows them to file a patent and advise on patentability.

This makes Patent Agents a valuable resource for clients that are dealing with products and inventions involving low legal complexity.

Patent Lawyer

In Canada, lawyers are required to attend law school, article (“intern with law offices”) and pass the bar prior to being called to the Bar and being allowed to practice law.

Similar to a Patent Agent, a patent lawyer is able to advise their client on the patentability of a product and file a patent. However, unlike a Patent Agent, a Patent Lawyer has the ability to provide their client with legal advice, draft contracts and other legal documents such as non-disclosure agreements and represent their client in legal proceedings.

As such, it is advisable to hire a Patent Lawyer if the client is dealing with products and inventions involving a higher level of legal complexity i.e. the client wants to establish a company and file the patent on that Company’s behalf, the client wants to establish a partnership agreement and properly structure that partnership through properly drafted and negotiated agreements.

What is the Difference?

 Patent AgentPatent Lawyer
File a PatentYesYes
Has Legal TrainingNoYes
Technical /Scientific BackgroundNot requiredNot required
Privileged CommunicationsYesYes
Draft Legal DocumentsNoYes
Provide Legal AdviceNoYes
Advise of PatentabilityYesYes