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A patent agent is a USPTO registered practitioner (passed the patent bar exam, etc.) who is not also licensed to practice law in any state. To the USPTO "registered practitioners" are the only people allowed to deal with them on someone else's behalf. Patent agents and patent attorneys have the same rights and responsibilities at/to the USPTO. If you need help with infringement issues or anything else outside the USPTO's processes, you need a lawyer.

USPTO Presentation on Becoming a Registered Practitioner

Find or verify a registered practitioner at USPTO

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