Choosing the right patent attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make in protecting your invention. The problem is that the “right” patent attorney is probably not going to tell you what you want to hear. The right patent attorney will tell you that the patent process is long, expensive and no guarantee of sales, or even a getting a patent for that matter. That is tough talk when you compare it with invention development companies that promise the moon and the stars.
Drafting patents is not like getting an oil change. All patent attorneys are different and so are the patents they draft. So how do you choose? Years of experience? Size of the office? Hourly billing rate? The best way to choose is to get a recommendation from someone like you who has actually worked with a patent attorney they liked. Do not rely on recommendations from others based upon advertising or second hand knowledge. Similarly, do not rely on recommendations from large corporations, if you are an independent inventor. You want to know how the patent attorney will treat you and how broad the patent you get will be.
Even the best patent attorney cannot guarantee that they can get you a patent, but the better patent attorney you select, the better the odds are of getting a better patent. Even a first year patent attorney can draft a very narrow, and nearly worthless patent. What you want is a skilled patent attorney who can get you a patent that will carve out a monopoly for you in the marketplace. Things to look for include:
1) Does the patent attorney have a good reputation among similar clients?
Nothing is probably a better indicator of a good patent attorney than a good
reputation among clients similar to yourself.
2) How many years of experience does the patent attorney have?
Ten years drafting patents is probably more than enough.
3) Does the patent attorney have a good reputation among other attorneys?
Check out Martindale Hubbell to find out how your attorney rates.
4) Is the patent attorney actually the one who does the work?
If you hire a partner, do you want an associate doing the work?
5) Is the patent attorney accessible?
Can you call the patent attorney directly? If the attorney has someone to
screen calls, there may be a reason.
6) What size clients does the attorney usually represent?
If the patent attorney usually represents huge companies, how responsive
will the patent attorney be in responding to your needs?
A smaller firm, catering to individual attorneys might provide you a little more individual attention.
7) How many and what type of patents has the patent attorney drafted?
Search patents at the Patent Office for the patent attorney’s name
to see the number and type of patents being drafted.
Does the patent attorney litigate patents?
Patent attorneys who litigate patents as well often have a keen
understanding of what you want and do not want in your patent if you ever seek to enforce it
9) How do YOU feel about the attorney?
Does the attorney talk over your head or fail to explain things in sufficient
detail? Is the attorney knowledgable? Authoritative? Persuasive? Even if the
patent attorney excels at everything else, if you do not feel comfortable with
the patent attorney keep looking; you will eventually find your perfect fit.