The law of agency is an area of commercial law dealing with a set of contractual, quasi-contractual and non-contractual fiduciary relationships that involve a person, called the agent, that is authorized to act on behalf of another (called the principal) to create legal relations with a third party. Succinctly, it may be referred to as the equal relationship between a principal and an agent whereby the principal, expressly or implicitly, authorizes the agent to work under his or her control and on his or her behalf. The agent is, thus, required to negotiate on behalf of the principal or bring him or her and third parties into contractual relationship. This branch of law separates and regulates the relationships between:
agents and principals (internal relationship), known as the principal-agent relationship;
agents and the third parties with whom they deal on their principals' behalf (external relationship); and
principals and the third parties when the agents deal.
In 1986, the European Communities enacted Directive 86/653/EEC on self-employed commercial agents. In the UK, this was implemented into national law in the Commercial Agents Regulations 1993.
A patent attorney is an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing an opposition. The term is used differently in different countries, and thus may or may not require the same legal qualifications as a general legal practitioner.
The titles patent agent and patent lawyer are also used in some jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions the terms are interchangeable, while in others the latter is used only if the person qualified as a lawyer.
In Europe, requirements for practising as patent attorney before national patent offices should be distinguished from those needed for practising before the European Patent Office (EPO) or the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO). On the national level, the requirements are not harmonized, although across the 28 Member States of the European Union respective professional qualifications are mutually recognised to some degree.
In economics, an agent is an actor and more specifically a decision maker in a model of some aspect of the economy. Typically, every agent makes decisions by solving a well or ill-defined optimization/choice problem.