Becoming a patent practitioner

Learn about applying for registration to practice in patent matters before the USPTO, including requirements, forms, and exam information.

All attorneys and agents practicing before the USPTO in trademark or patent matters are subject to the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct set forth in 37 C.F.R. §§ 11.101 et. seq. and disciplinary jurisdiction under 37 C.F.R. § 11.19(a). Additionally, unauthorized individuals who represent others before the USPTO are subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the USPTO. See 37 C.F.R. §11.19(a).

Registration examination

Learn about the contents of the examination for registration to practice before the USPTO, updates to the exam, exam statistics, and review sessions.

General Requirements Bulletin

Individuals seeking registration or recognition must meet the requirements of 37 CFR § 11.7, including the legal, scientific, and technical qualifications, as well as good moral character and reputation. General instructions for demonstrating possession of the necessary qualifications can be found in the General Requirements Bulletin. The bulletin also contains information regarding applicable fees and includes the application form (PTO 158) and credit card authorization form (PTO 2038).

General Requirements Bulletin

Application and Registration Process

INITIAL STEPS:

The registration process begins with submission of an application to practice before the USPTO in patent matters (apply online using the Applicant Portal or PTO 158 form) along with i) a $100.00 non-refundable application fee, ii) a $200.00 registration examination fee, and iii) required information to show the necessary scientific and technical qualifications.  These are described in detail in the General Requirements Bulletin.

OED will then review your application.  This typically takes 4 weeks or less.  If the material you submitted is complete and sufficiently demonstrates that you have the necessary scientific and technical qualifications, you will receive a notice of admission.  The notice will include a time period for you to schedule and take the examination at a commercial test center of your choosing.  This time period is generally about 90 days from the admission date.  The commercial test center will collect an additional fee at the time you schedule the examination.

If your application is incomplete, OED will send you a detailed explanation by letter and give you 60 days to file additional information.

If your application is disapproved, OED will send a detailed explanation for the disapproval by letter.  The $200.00 registration examination fee will be refunded; however, the $100.00 application fee is non-refundable.

TAKING THE EXAM:

The examination is 100 multiple-choice questions administered over two three-hour sessions.  Fifty (50) questions will be asked in a three-hour morning session, and fifty (50) questions will be asked in a three-hour afternoon session.  Each question has five answer choices.  Ten (10) of the 100 questions are unscored beta questions.  The reference materials tested will be available on the computer delivering the examination questions.  To pass the examination, you must correctly answer sixty three (63) of the ninety (90) scored questions (i.e., 70% of the scored questions).

Ordinarily, you will receive unofficial test results at the test center immediately upon completing your examination.  You will receive official notice of results from the USPTO, generally within 5 business days from the date you complete the examination.

If you pass, you will receive a notice stating that you passed the examination and further instructions for completing the registration process.  You must complete the Data Sheet and Oath or Affirmation forms and submit them to OED along with the $200.00 registration fee within 2 years of mailing of the notice of results or you will be required to retake the registration examination.  Upon satisfactory completion of a moral character investigation and receipt of the completed Data Sheet and Oath or Affirmation, you will be registered as a patent agent.  If you are an attorney and file a certificate of good standing issued within the past six months from the highest court of a state with your Data Sheet form, you will be registered as a patent attorney.  Please note: You may not hold yourself out as a registered practitioner until OED has given your application final approval.

If you do not pass the examination, you will be notified of your score and receive information on how to schedule an optional review session at the commercial review center of your choice.  During the review session, you will be able to review the scored questions you answered incorrectly.  Questions answered correctly and questions skipped/not answered are not reviewable.  The cost of the review session is payable to Prometric.  You have 60 days from the mailing of the notice of results to schedule and complete your review session. 

You may reapply for admission to the examination by submitting the applicable form and fees.  Upon reapplication, you will not be required to submit any supporting documents previously furnished to OED. You must, however, update previous responses if there has been a change.

REGISTRATION PROCESS:

Final approval for registration is subject to the determination by the OED Director that the person seeking registration is of good moral character and reputation.  As part of the initial application process, you must fully complete the background information section of the application which is used for the moral character evaluation.  Additionally, pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.8(a), OED publishes the names and postal addresses of individuals who have passed the examination and are seeking registration or recognition to practice before the USPTO in order to solicit information concerning the individual's good moral character and reputation.  The period for comment is 45 days.

In the absence of evidence of a lack of good moral character and reputation, you will receive your certificate of registration and welcome letter generally 3 months after passing the examination.  Your name and correspondence address will be published in the Roster of Agents and Attorneys.

FEES:

APPLICATION AND EXAMINATION FEE SCHEDULE

PAYABLE TO THE USPTO

PAYABLE TO PROMETRIC

  1. ONE APPLICATION FEE:

Application fee under 37 CFR § 1.21(a)(1)(i)

$100

 

Application fee for moral character issues under 37 CFR § 1.21(a)(10)

$1600

 

  1. ONE EXAMINATION FEE:

Commercial test examination fee 37 CFR § 1.21(a)(1)(ii)(A)

$200

 

Examination waiver

$0

 

  1. IF YOU CHOSE COMMERCIAL TEST EXAMINATION:

Prometric examination administration fee

 

$173

  1. RESCHEDULE EXAMINATION (to reschedule an examination for another date, time or location within your examination window, you must contact Prometric)

Reschedule 30 calendar days prior to appointment

 

$0

Reschedule 2 - 29 calendar days prior to appointment

 

$50

Reschedule less than 2 calendar days prior to appointment

 

$173

  1. REGISTRATION/LIMITED RECOGNITION GRANT FEE (upon passing examination and providing the Oath and Data Sheet):

Registration/limited recognition grant fee - 37 CFR § 1.21(a)(2)

$200

 

  1. OPTIONAL REVIEW SESSION (for applicants who did not attain a passing grade on the examination)

Prometric review session administration fee

 

$205

Please note that the summary above differs for applications for limited recognition to practice before the USPTO in patent matters, waiver of the registration examination, patent or trademark reciprocity applications, and those seeking reasonable accommodations for a disability.

Limited recognition

Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents can be registered to practice law in patent matters before the USPTO.  See 37 CFR § 11.6(a) and (b). It has been the longstanding practice of the Office to grant limited recognition under 37 CFR § 11.9(b) to nonimmigrant aliens who demonstrate that they are authorized to be employed or trained by a specific employer in the capacity of preparing and prosecuting patent applications. 

Individuals granted limited recognition under 37 CFR § 11.9(b) may hold themselves out to the public only as having been granted limited recognition to practice in patent matters before the Office.  For example, any published biographical information regarding their ability to practice before the Office in patent matters must include an indication of their limited recognition status and shall not reference that they are registered to practice in patent matters before the Office. Individuals who fail to comply with this requirement may have their grant of limited recognition revoked. Individuals granted limited recognition may apply for registration should their immigration status change to United States permanent residence or citizenship.

Further information regarding limited recognition for nonimmigrant aliens is available in the General Requirements Bulletin.