How To Hire The Right Patent Attorney
Getting patent protection can start with selecting the right patent attorney. Your patent attorney can draft the patent application and provide you with advice during the application process, which may take two to three years. 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 their services. You could also hire a patent agent to prepare the patent, but they will not be able to assist you with any subsequent infringement issues that require legislation.
As a start point, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) maintains a listing of patent attorneys and agents on its web site at www.uspto.gov. Some bar associations also operate referral services that keep a list of patent attorneys accepting new clients. 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 the area of 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 the attorney has drafted, and what types of inventions they have assisted in patenting. As with any professional, the more experience the patent attorney has, the stronger the patent is likely to be.
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 ensure a positive opinion of patentability. It is often safer to work with an attorney who hires independent, professional 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 you and/or your company for several years. If you do not feel confident that a particular intellectual property attorney can handle your situation or understands your concerns, continue your search until you find the lawyer to represent your interests best.
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