If you have never worked with a lawyer before, walking into their offices can be a bit unnerving. And if you’re seeking help from a patent attorney, an even greater level of trepidation is understandable. You’re dealing with the future of your invention, your business, and your financial well-being.
Are you currently preparing for a meeting with a patent lawyer, or still determining whether you need legal assistance with your patent? If so, I’m more than happy to help. Just give me a call.
But if you’d like a bit more insight into how to work with a patent lawyer in an effective manner, here’s a rundown of what your priorities should be before you walk through the front door.
1. Have clear-cut goals for what you want to accomplish with your invention.
It’s much easier for an attorney to respond to goals than it is to complete legal services in isolation. Context is everything.
If you are afraid that someone is going to make copies of your product, then your goal is to protect your invention from infringement. Want to license your production for a million dollars? Tell your attorney.
If you just walk into a patent lawyer’s office and say, “I want a patent,” you’re doing yourself a disservice. You aren’t working towards a meaningful goal. By being transparent with your attorney about your goals, they can help you determine whether those goals are unrealistic. It also allows them to tailor their patent services to fit your specific needs.
2. Be sure you have an in-depth understanding of your product, the manufacturing process, and its applications.
First of all, ensure that you can explain how to make and use your product. If you can’t, then you’re likely still at the idea stage, in which case you don’t have anything patentable just yet.
If you do have an actual product, explain to your lawyer what problem you’re solving or need you’re fulfilling that hasn’t previously been addressed. How have other people attempted to solve these issues in a manner less satisfactory than your product?
Don’t worry about getting into too much detail. Most inventors love talking about their inventions, and we love hearing about them. But keep in mind, your attorney will likely ask a lot of questions that don’t seem entirely relevant, or even interesting. Rest assured, these questions are very important for an attorney who wishes to understand the minutiae of your invention.
3. Ask about the costs of obtaining a patent.
Unless your attorney only passed the bar exam yesterday, they should have data on hand that covers how much it costs to get a patent. If transparency from a client is important for attorneys to do their best work, it is equally important for your patent attorney to be upfront about the cost of their services. I actually publicly post my patent services data, with information on the number of clients I’ve served, how many non-provisional applications I’ve helped secure, the median cost, and the amount of money I’ve saved each client.
If they know what they’re doing, your patent attorney will either be able to show you this data, or at least provide average costs or cost projections.
Your lawyer may say they don’t know. If so, they’re probably not telling the truth.
4. Ask your attorney if they can help you conduct a cost-benefit analysis for your product.
If your attorney has developed an understanding of what your goals are and has given you guidance as to how much obtaining a patent will cost, they should be able to help you understand if applying for a patent makes sense.
More importantly, they can help you find ways to maximize the benefits of your patent or reduce your costs. I often recommend to clients that they look for third-party payers to reduce costs in the long-term. There are also other strategies that can help.
As long as you put some careful thought into what you want to accomplish by working with a patent lawyer, then you’ll almost certainly be happy that you chose not to go it alone. To learn more about how an attorney can help you obtain a patent and generate a profit on your work, contact the Law Office of Michael O’Brien by calling (916) 760-8265, or send us a message through our contact form.