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Is Your Patent Attorney Charging Too Much?

on August 22, 2006 The Appellate Division, Second Department, Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled In the Matter of Kroll,
that patent attorney Michael I. Kroll violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by charging excessive fees for preparing the paperwork for filing patent applications internationally.

In 2000, one of Kroll’s clients, Lynn Svevad, complained to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) about Kroll’s fees. Although preparing a patent application itself may cost ten thousand dollars of more, the USPTO Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) found that for preparation of an application for international filing, patent attorneys in the New York City area typically charged $700. Kroll had been charging clients $11,500 for the same service.

The Appellate Division said the investigation found that the average fee charged in the New York City area for preparation of an application was $700. It also found that Kroll charged and collected $11,500 each, from seventy five clients, for the same service. The USPTO OED suspended Kroll for three years, from practicing before the USPTO, but suspended the sentence in light of Kroll’s agreement to refund three hundred and fifty thousand dollars in fees. The Court publicly censured Kroll for his conduct. Here are the tips for FINRA investigations that you might require.

You should expect a wide disparity of fees for services relying on a particular attorney’s skill and expertise. A patent attorney with fifteen years experience will probably charge more to draft a patent application than a patent agent who just passed the patent bar. No two patent applications are the same. The thought is that an attorney bringing to bear fifteen years of experience would have greater insight and ability, allowing for the preparation of a “better” patent application, more likely to issue with broader protection. For administrative matters, such as preparing a patent application for international filing, a good legal assistant working under the eye of a seasoned patent attorney can probably fill out the form as well as the seasoned patent attorney. There are only so many ways to fill out a form.

Do not be fooled, however, you can probably not fill out the form yourself. One mistake and the application can go abandoned. Paying a patent law firm with good Martindale rating $700 for the filing would likely be some of the best money you ever spent. The key is to check around. Ask the lowest priced attorney why the price is so low. Ask if the job is a “fill in the form” type job or a “drafting a patent application” type job. Ask if any attorney working the project would file pretty much the same thing. Just make sure you are only paying the $400/hr fees for $400/hr service.

Brett Trout

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