Do I need a Power of attorney (POA) in the patent prosecution process? Sounds serious…You’ve engaged with an attorney or agent, and during the application process or after filing they ask you if you want to sign a power of attorney. Sounds intense!
Often we have clients who have heard of this phrase in relation to real estate or property arrangements, so when it comes up in the patent world it can cause some confusion or hesitation.
- You don’t have to sign a power of attorney when filing a patent application. Even if an attorney is preparing the application for you, they are able to file it for you in a representative capacity.
- You can withdraw the power of attorney at any time by communicating directly with the USPTO.
So why would you want to sign a power of attorney?
If you want your attorney or agent to deal directly with the patent office on your behalf then you need to have a POA in place. The USPTO will not in any way discuss the progress, status, contents, rejections, objections or details of your application with your attorney if a POA is not in place. There may be a scenario where your attorney needs to urgently or promptly communicate with the office for your application and if there isn’t a POA in place this will not be possible. Also if your attorney needs to talk to an examiner who is reviewing your application, without a POA this will not be possible.
Overall, a POA streamlines the communication process between the USPTO, attorney and you as the client. Attorneys have systems and processes in place that track the progress of your application and receive notifications from the USPTO about certain actions that may need to taken during the application process. We have seen clients miss these deadlines and communications causing delays and further costs.
The POA form that you sign is a standard form provided by the USPTO and will only apply to one specific application. Each new application needs a new POA. So you see how this can be very different to a POA in a real estate scenario.
It's still up to you, but remember, setting up a POA with the patent office is straightforward and retracting the power is just as simple.