Let’s start with a simple understanding. If you have even the slightest suspicion that you want to patent a product, you need to hire and get legal advice from a patent lawyer or a patent agent. This blog is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer or your agent. I am not providing you with any legal advice, representation, or counsel. You and I have no attorney-client relationship. The purpose of this blog is to introduce you to the vocabulary that you will need when you got to a patent attorney and ask him to help you patent your product.
Once you’ve made the right decision and hired a patent lawyer to handle patenting your product, the next trick is to hire the right lawyer to handle patenting your product.
Patents are not like most other legal matters. For most legal matters, any idiot with a law degree is licensed to represent you in the legal matter. In patents, a lawyer has to have a science or engineering degree and take a separate registration exam in order to represent clients who are applying for patents. In patents, only a select subset of lawyers (probably around 45,000 of the million or so lawyers in America) is technically capable of patenting a product for you. But the mere fact that someone is a registered patent attorney doesn’t mean that you can trust them.
You need to go to a specialist in patents on the type of product that you want to patent. If you are getting a patent on a system for polishing gems, you don’t want to hire a patent lawyer who specializes in computer software. Just like you may not know all of the small details that are necessary to properly accomplish the task of patenting a product, a lawyer who handles patents on products that are nothing like yours may not know of all of the details that are necessary to get things right in the process of patenting your product.
Note: A lawyer really doesn’t know the details of patenting a product until he has written a hundred patent applications or practiced patent law for at least five years. Until then, he will tend to make rookie mistakes in patenting a product that will tend to cost you time and money.
So, here are some questions to ask in selecting a lawyer to handle patenting your product:
- How much of your practice is dedicated to patenting products and resolving patent disputes?
The answer needs to be more than 70%.
- How many patent applications have you written?
You are looking for an attorney who has written more than 100 patent applications.
- How many of your patent applications have issued as patents?
You are looking to hear “more than a dozen.” Honestly, you just want to be sure that you’re not buying a parachute from a guy who has never jumped out of a plane.
- Do you have specialized docketing software to handle the calendaring and docketing of product deadlines?
The answer needs to be “yes, we have software that automatically calculates and sends reminders for everything from extension of time dates to post-allowance maintenance fees.” Microsoft Outlook is not “specialized software” for handling the process of patenting a product.
- Have you ever been the subject of a grievance or a malpractice suit?
If the answer is yes, you don’t want the guy patenting your product.
- Do you have malpractice insurance?
The answer needs to be, “Yes.” If a patent lawyer screws up the process of patenting your product, and his negligence costs you money, there needs to be an insurance policy standing behind his work to make you whole.
Remember: This blog is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer or your agent. I am not providing you with any legal advice, representation, or counsel.