Getting patent protection starts with selecting the right patent attorney. Your patent attorney will draft the patent application and provide you with advice over two to three years during the application process. The final patent will only be as strong as the patent attorney who drafted it. Below are some questions you should ask a prospective patent attorney before retaining him or her.
Do some of your own research on the patent process before seeking out an attorney. Understanding the patent process, and even conducting your own preliminary patent search, will help you ask the right questions and get a sense of the attorneys you interview.
Does the attorney's degree match the type of invention?
All patent attorneys must be hard scientists (physics, chemistry, etc.) or engineers. The four most common types are engineers with degrees in mechanical, chemical, electrical, or computer science engineering. Whatever the attorney's science or engineering background, it should match your invention. For example, a software engineer would be a poor candidate to write a chemical patent.
How much experience does the patent attorney have?
Experience encompasses the attorney's number of years in patent practice, the number of patent applications he or she has drafted, and what types of inventions he or she has assisted in patenting. As with any professional, the more experience the patent attorney has, the stronger the patent is likely to be.
What will the total fee be to patent the invention?
Most experienced patent attorneys can provide a firm quote of the total costs of patenting the invention. This quote should define whether all costs, such as the application fees, copying, and fees of independent searchers are included. It is expensive, but patenting some types of inventions will always be more expensive than patenting others.
For example, patenting the design of a cup will be less work-intensive, and therefore less expensive, than patenting a medical device on the cutting edge of biotechnology. If the attorney is not willing to be bound by a quote, continue looking for one that will.
Does the attorney use independent patent searchers?
Although it is certainly not always the case, there is a risk that an in-house attorney will sacrifice the quality of a patent search to insure a positive opinion of patentability. It is often safer to work with an attorney who hires independent patent searchers.
Do you get a good feeling from the attorney?
This can be one of the most important criteria in hiring any attorney. The attorney you retain will be working with your company for several years. If you do not feel comfortable working with this attorney, it is unlikely that he or she will "grow on you" in the years to come.
Get Legal Help from a Patent Attorney Near You
Patent law is even more complex than other areas of law, which means it's often in your best interests to seek legal representation when dealing with patents. A patent attorney can help you determine whether your invention is truly novel and help you secure it through a valid patent application. Find a patent law attorney in your neighborhood and get some peace of mind for your business venture.