Patent Lawyer vs. Patent Attorney - what's the Difference?

Under Australian law, Patent Attorneys and Patent Lawyers (also know an Solicitors) are separate professions. The role of a Patent Attorney is more focussed on obtaining patent rights whereas Patent lawyers may be more focussed disputes and Court proceedings, but are excluded from patent drafting.

A patent attorney is an intellectual property specialist, registered with The Trans-Tasman IP Attorney Board,  who is both legally trained and technically skilled. For example, at IP& our staff have post graduate degree qualifications in intellectual property law as well as honours and masters level degree qualifications in engineering and science. We also have technical experience in areas such as mechanical and process engineering, renewable energy, electrical and control engineering, computer software and business methods.

Patent Attorneys Prepare and File Patent Applications

Due to the unique combination of technical and legal skills, under Australian law only a Registered Patent Attorney is entitled to prepare, amend and file patent applications on behalf of others before the Australian patent office. Similar to a Lawyer, a Patent Attorney has legal privilege in communication between the Attorney and the client. However, once the matter comes before a Court,  a patent or intellectual property Lawyer is required.

Did you know that under Australian law a patent lawyer or solicitor is not entitled to prepare or draft a patent specification? However, many lawyers will undertake initial patent work before handing the matter to a patent attorney. Whilst some lawyers provide good  initial assistance, please beware that a lawyer (even a patent or IP lawyer) most often does not have either a technical qualification (such as a degree in engineering) or the specialised knowledge in patents to fully advise you. If you are in any doubt, please contact IP Australia or the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys (IPTA), who can best advise you on the most appropriate type of professional to best serve your needs.

How else can a Patent Attorney help?

According to the Australian Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys (IPTA), Patent attorneys can:

  • Advise on intellectual property (IP), and help IP owners register and maintain their property;
  • Apply for and secure patents, registered trademarks, industrial designs and plant variety types in Australia and overseas;
  • Help transfer technology by licensing and other processes
  • Conduct IP audits of organisations and products;
  • Conduct litigation in Australia and overseas;
  • Determine whether a development is new and sufficiently inventive enough to justify a patent;
  • Determine the nature and ambit of inventions and prepare patent specifications
  • Lodge documents with the Patent Office, and guide applications through the process
  • They also help clients manage their IP portfolios, advise on patents and registrations held by others, and advise on whether developments infringe or might infringe rights held by others.

Need a Patent Attorney?

Contact IP& to learn how our Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys can assist you.

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As an individual inventor, I set out to find a Patent Attorney service that was accessible and reasonably priced to assist in lodging my first patent application. I found IP& (formerly Caska IP) to be not only affordable and accessible, but highly professional and attentive to my needs and requirements. IP& worked with me to assist in refining my idea and expressing its unique qualities. I highly recommend IP& to the individual inventor.

Lester Walters
Inventor, QUAD R&D Pty Ltd