Agent vs. Attorney
I am a patent agent and I am not an attorney.  
Consequently, I cannot represent you in a court of law.
In terms of obtaining a patent for you, I can do
essentially everything a patent attorney can do.  Since
the first level of appeal, which is before the Board of
Appeals and Interferences, is within the Patent and
Trademark Office, I can also represent you at the first
level of appeal (should that be necessary). The second
level of appeal is to the court system, and should that be
necessary, we would need to hire a patent attorney.  
However, in my years of practice as a patent agent and
as a patent examiner, I still have not had a case in
which the applicant desired to go to this second level of
appeal.

Additionally, as a registered patent agent I am bound by
the US Patent and Trademark Office to keep your
information confidential.  However, since I am not an
attorney there may not be an actual attorney-client
privilege in a least some jurisdictions.  If there is no
actual attorney-client privilege, and if a court orders me
to disclose information, my duty to the court may
trump my duty to keep the patent-applicant's
information confidential.  I typically offer to sign a
non-disclosure agreement in an effort to further
enhance the protection of your confidential information
that I provide to you.
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