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.
- The stakes are very high
The reason that you want to patent a product is that you feel that your product has great value and you want to protect that value from being stolen by rip-off artists. There is a great deal of potential money on the table that has to be protected by patenting a product, and you really can’t afford mistakes.
- Patenting a product is hard.
I am not going to give you any false impressions about how difficult it is to patent a product. It is frequently the case that, even when an experienced and expert attorney handles the process of patenting a product, the process of patenting a product can take a quarter of a year (500) of man hours and that time can be spread out over 5-10 years of arguments and negotiations with the patent and trademark office.
Let me say that again. Even when done by an expert, it can take 500 man hours over the course of 5-10 years to complete the process of patenting a product. As you can imagine, if it takes so many hours over so many years for an expert to handle the process of patenting a product, the process is complex and difficult.
Processes that are complex and difficult, even for experts, are prone to be screwed up badly by people who are trying them for the first time and are mostly focused on other things.
- You don’t want to mess up when you patent a product
You can probably patent a product without the help of a lawyer. It can be done. You can also cut out your own appendix, but I don’t recommend it. In patenting a product, there are MANY small details that can be incredibly destructive if you get them wrong. It’s better to have a surgeon handle the process of removing your appendix. It’s better to have a registered patent lawyer handle the process of patenting your product. In either case, the work is more likely to get done right by someone who has done it hundreds of times and knows the small details that have to be carefully observed to make sure that everything works. In the case of cutting out your appendix, getting things right is the difference between life and death. In the case of patenting a product, doing things right may the difference between securing the exclusive right to make and use your product or having your product ripped off by some lowlife copycat.
- If something does get messed up, you want to have somebody who will stand behind the work.
The other big advantage in hiring a patent lawyer to patent your product for you is that hiring a lawyer to handle patenting a product means that there will be somebody to stand behind the work. If you make a mistake in your patent application that costs you the right to exclusive manufacture and use of your product, you have nobody to blame but yourself. If you hire a patent lawyer to patent your product for you, and the lawyer makes a mistake in patenting your product, your patent lawyer has a large number of incentives, the least of which is the value of his own good name, to see to it that the mistake is fixed for you.
At the end of the day, if you end up with some sort of colossal mistake that costs you the exclusive right to make and use your product, that mistake can cost you a lot of money. When you hire a lawyer to handle patenting your product, and the mistake is made by the patent lawyer, his malpractice insurance may be available to help you pay those costs.
- It just isn’t worth the inconvenience.
The final big advantage to hiring a patent lawyer to handle patenting your product is convenience. Patenting a product is handled by a part of the government called the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO is famous for long delays in responding to patent applications submitted by applicants for patents. When you file your patent application, rather than waiting on the USPTO to respond by yourself, having a patent lawyer handle the patenting of your product means that you have made the patent lawyer responsible for remembering that the USPTO is expected to respond. You’ve made the patent lawyer responsible for following up if he doesn’t hear anything. Patent lawyers who spend a lot of their time patenting products will have computerized calendaring systems specifically designed to remind them to follow up on the patent applications that they are registering for their clients.
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.