James P. Burns, 86, a retired Washington attorney who was president of the American Patent Law Association and a member of the American Bar Association's house of delegates, both in the 1950s, died July 30 in his home in Winter Park, Fla. He retired and moved to Florida in 1975.

Mr. Burns was a native of Kansas and served with the Navy in Europe during World War I. He attended Montana State College and graduated from George Washington University's law school.

He was admitted to the D.C. Bar in 1923 and practiced patent law until retiring as a partner of the firm of Burns, Doane, Swecker & Mathis, now of Alexandria. Mr. Burns was a founder of the firm in the early 1930s.

He was a past president of the Kenwood Country Club. He was a Mason, and a member of University Club. He had been a member of the Metropolitan United Methodist Church of Washington.

His first wife, the former Ada Lee Hall, died in 1936.

Survivors include his wife, Esther G., of Winter Park; two sons by his first marriage, Dr. James P. Burns of Winter Park, Fla., and Wendell E., of Alexandria; a stepson, C. Phillip Kable of Pittsburgh; a half brother, Dale Doane of Beverly, W.Va.; two half sisters, Naomi Nelson and Bernice Reed, both of Hutchinson, Kan.; 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.