5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Patent Attorney
If you’ve got an idea that you think could be the next big thing, your first step will be filing a patent. This is the legal claim that the idea is 100% original, protecting you from being plagiarized by anyone else who tries to snag the idea out from under you further down the line. It’s an important step in the invention and development of any new product or service, and you must be sure you get it right the first time. For that reason and many others, most people prefer to use a patent attorney to walk them through the process. But how do you choose the right one? There are literally thousands of patent attorneys out there, and if you don’t know what you’re doing they can pretty much all look the same. In order to determine if the one you are talking to is the right fit, check out these five things to consider when hiring a patent attorney.
The first thing to find out is whether the patent attorney in question has experience working with entrepreneurs, small business owners and even individuals. Some patent attorneys focus on larger corporations, who often file dozens of patents a year. If they’ve been swimming in those waters too long, they may not be able to relate to the issues and concerns you are facing. You want a patent attorney who is used to working with individuals. They’ll understand your financial limitations, and the importance this single idea has in your life. They’ll also take the time to walk you through the process, which you probably need at this stage of the game.
Speaking of the process, does the patent attorney you’re meeting with take the time to make all of the options crystal clear? Not all patents are the same, and some patent attorneys have been doing this for so long that they rush through the process. They may tell you what they would do, but they won’t make the effort to insure you understand all of the potential options. This is crucial, as you deserve to understand what you’re getting into. Your needs also won’t be exactly the same as the patent attorney’s, and you deserve to make the final call from an informed position.
You should also find out exactly what role the patent attorney will take after the patent has been filed. Once a docket has been sent in to the U.S. Patent Office, some patent attorneys will simply move on. Perhaps they’ll send you out an email reminder when another step needs to happen, but they won’t advise you along the way. You probably need someone who will look at your situation and understand the things you need help with, regardless of whether you see the need or not. In other words, you’ll want a bit of hand holding at this point.
Before you pay a patent attorney for anything, you should understand what happens if you have questions along the way. This is crucial, because many attorneys charge by the hour. If you’re going to get a bill every time you give your patent attorney a call, you could be in for trouble. Many patent attorneys will round up, meaning a fifteen minute question and answer session will turn into a full billable hour. This will accumulate in a hurry, so make sure you know how follow up questions will impact your final bill.
Finally, figure out who is in charge of what during the patent filing process. If you wanted someone who would simply file the paperwork, you could use any attorney in Orlando you found on a web listing. But if you want someone who will strategize with you, that’s a whole different story. After all, filing the patent is just the first step for your new product or invention. Try to find someone who is interested in starting a relationship with you, who will be there for any trademark or copyright issues that come up further down the line. Then you’ll know your financial investment is worth it.
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