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Is a European Patent Attorney an attorney for purposes of benchmarking?

My global benchmarking uncovers nuances. Here is one that a thoughtful participant wrote about.

“I wanted to get your thoughts on a specific question of current interest (with respect to benchmarking). For global corporations such as ours, would you consider European ‘Patent Attorneys’ (resident in Europe) as Lawyers or Non-Lawyer/Other (say, in calculating ‘Lawyers per Billion of Revenue’)? These practitioners are not really ‘lawyers’ in the classical sense, but rather perform specific functions as it relates to the patent process, and aren’t licensed to perform other legal services. But as their title indicates, they may consider themselves attorneys.”

I told the person who emailed me not to consider the European Patent Attorneys as attorneys for purposes of the benchmark study. They are more like US-trained patent agents, I believe (See my post of March 2, 2010: patent agents and other almost-lawyers.).

Beyond my own survey, the question points out one reason why the term “lawyer” is not always as clear as some of us may think or wish (See my post of March 30, 23010: some nuances of “lawyer”.).

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