Is an attorney required to obtain patent, trademark or copyright protection?

A patent application can be filed either by one of the inventors or by a registered patent attorney (or patent agent). While it is not required that the services of a patent attorney be utilized when filing a patent application, the patent application process is rather complex (akin to filing a complex tax return). To become registered, the Patent Office provides a rigorous examination that must be passed by an applicant who also has an engineering or other four year science degree (or equivalent) before allowing such registered practitioners to assist inventors in obtaining patent protection. Trademark applications can be filed by the owner of the trademark or by any attorney licensed by a state bar. Copyright registration applications can be filed by the copyright claimant or any licensed attorney. Generally, we recommend that the services of a registered patent attorney be utilized when pursuing patent protection and that an attorney with experience in filing trademark applications be utilized when pursuing a trademark registration, for the best potential for a desirable outcome. For copyrights, we prefer to educate our clients as to how to register their own copyrights, and occasionally we provide assistance with the copyright registration process.

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