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8 Must-Read Tips for Hiring a Patent Attorney

by Guest on August 5, 2014
Business

We all know that attorneys in general can be expensive. But did you know that patent attorneys charge anywhere from $250-$450 per hour?

The attorney you choose will be pretty much your only ally in your fight to get a patent; and that is a process that takes years! Given the financial investment and time commitment involved, you’ll want to really put some thought into hiring the right person.

The attorney you choose will be pretty much your only ally in your fight to get a patent; and that is a process that takes years. Given the financial investment and time commitment involved, you’ll want to really put some thought into hiring the right person.

8 helpful things to know before working with an IP attorney:

  • Find an attorney that is willing to coach you through writing an application draft. This will save you thousands of dollars. The more work you do yourself, the more billing hours are saved. My attorney and I sent the draft I wrote back and forth probably about 5 times. Each time, she told me what to change and how to improve it.  She then proofed the final version and wrote the claims.
  • Meet with multiple attorneys before you hire.  Your initial consult should be free. If it’s not, that’s a red flag. Keep in mind that you are the interviewer, not the other way around.  You will be paying this person a lot of money, so you have every right to ask a lot of questions. Also, the first consult will probably be the only time that you are not charged.  So, get all of your questions written down beforehand – and ask away!
  • Make them aware of your limited budget from the get-go. Especially if you are independent inventor, make this clear. Even if you have endless streams of cash, act like you don’t.
  • Clear communication is important. Do you feel like you understand the way the attorney explains complicated subject matter?  A good attorney will know how to “translate” legal verbiage into terms you understand.
  • Ask about billing, especially for phone calls. Many attorneys will charge you even if a phone call is only 5 minutes. You may think, “Well, it’s only a quick question,” and then you get a $100 invoice for an 8-minute conversation!
  • Ask for a per-project estimate of billing hours. For each given project, tell your attorney you want to know an estimate of the time he/she needs to complete it before beginning to work on it. For example, it may take your attorney 6 hours (yes, 6) to review the results of a prior art search. If you think this will only take an hour, you’re in for about a $2,000 surprise! By asking what to expect up front, you can avoid misunderstandings and being blindsided by huge invoices.
  • You will have a lot of questions, but don’t always ask your attorney. You will be charged for almost every email and phone call.  Many questions can be answered with a quick Google search or by referencing a guide or book. So, make sure to have a few good books about intellectual property on your shelf!

In the end, you want to create the best team around you to get your product patented, and ultimately in the hands of consumers.

Keep in mind, any attorney can bill you for hours and go through the motions. So, I’ll leave you with one last thought. You’ll need to use your intuition on this one! Try to hire someone that feels like a true partner; someone that you feel is truly passionate about seeing his or her clients succeed.

Featured photo: rkrichardson

IMG_3699Natalie Monaco is an inventor the founder of Covermade Bedding. A few years ago, after becoming frustrated with the hassle of making the bed, Natalie began looking in stores and online for bedding products that could simplify bed making. When she saw that the market had nothing to offer, she began devising her own solution and made it her mission to provide consumers with a solution. After much time developing prototypes and searching for a manufacturer, she was soon featured as a guest co-host on ShopNBC home shopping network. Natalie holds a Marketing degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

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