A patent attorney refers to a lawyer who is licensed to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A patent attorney is also referred to as a patent agent. A patent attorney is an attorney who has the requisite qualifications necessary for representing clients trying to obtain patents. The term, patent attorney is used differently in different countries. Patent attorney is also known as a registered patent practitioner. A registered patent practitioner is a person who is licensed to practice law before the USPTO. The terms are interchangeable in some jurisdictions.
In the U.S., a patent agent or patent attorney must pass a mandatory USPTO registration examination. This exam is known as the patent bar. This exam tests a candidate's knowledge of patent law and of USPTO policies and procedures. Both patent attorneys and patent agents have the same license to practice and represent clients before the USPTO. Patent agents and patent attorneys are also entitled to provide patentability opinions. [Sperry v. Florida, 373 U.S. 379 (U.S. 1963)]