37 CFR 1.31 Applicant may be represented by one or more patent practitioners or joint inventors.
An applicant for patent may file and prosecute the applicant’s own case, or the applicant may give power of attorney so as to be represented by one or more patent practitioners or joint inventors, except that a juristic entity (e.g., organizational assignee) must be represented by a patent practitioner even if the juristic entity is the applicant. The Office cannot aid in the selection of a patent practitioner.
An applicant who is a juristic entity must be represented by a patent practitioner. An applicant for patent, other than a juristic entity (e.g., organizational assignee), may file and prosecute his or her own application, and thus act as his or her own representative (pro se) before the Office. See 37 CFR 1.31. In presenting (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) papers to the Office, a pro se applicant is making the certifications under 37 CFR 11.18(b), and may be subject to sanctions under 37 CFR 11.18(c) for violations of 37 CFR 11.18(b)(2). See 37 CFR 1.4(d)(4). See also MPEP §§ 402.03 and 410.
If patentable subject matter appears to be disclosed in a pro se application and it is apparent that the applicant is unfamiliar with the proper preparation and prosecution of patent applications, the examiner may suggest to the applicant that it may be desirable to employ a registered patent attorney or agent. It is suggested that form paragraph 4.10 be incorporated in an Office action if the use of an attorney or agent is considered desirable and if patentable subject matter exists in the application.
¶ 4.10 Employ Services of Attorney or Agent
An examination of this application reveals that applicant is unfamiliar with patent prosecution procedure. While an applicant may prosecute the application (except that a juristic entity must be represented by a patent practitioner, 37 CFR 1.31), lack of skill in this field usually acts as a liability in affording the maximum protection for the invention disclosed. Applicant is advised to secure the services of a registered patent attorney or agent to prosecute the application, since the value of a patent is largely dependent upon skilled preparation and prosecution. The Office cannot aid in selecting an attorney or agent.
A listing of registered patent attorneys and agents is available at https://oedci.uspto.gov/OEDCI/. Applicants may also obtain a list of registered patent attorneys and agents located in their area by writing to the Mail Stop OED, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.
The examiner should not suggest that applicant employ an attorney or agent if the application appears to contain no patentable subject matter.