How to Find a Patent Lawyer: Everything You Need to Know
To learn how to find a patent lawyer, it is imperative to first understand what a patent lawyer does. A patent lawyer is an attorney specialized in the area of patent law. He or she has specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents, as well as any legal suits that may arise.
When someone wants to have his or her invention patented, that means the inventor wants to have it protected so that others cannot use, copy, or sell the invention. That is where a patent attorney comes in. Hiring a qualified patent attorney can help you through the process of having your invention patented.
Benefits of Using a Patent Attorney
When patent applications are poorly drafted, it may not be successful. While there are seminars and workshops you can attend, you just won’t be as trained or well versed in this area as a patent attorney is.
While provisional patent applications are easier to do on your own than a non-provisional application, inventors often forget that there are still requirements that must be met in order to be successful in protecting your invention.
A patent attorney, whether assisting you in your provisional or non-provisional patent application, can make the process go more smoothly. Most importantly, a patent attorney will do the legwork for you, ensuring that you have a well-drafted application to increase your chances of receiving protection.
Considerations When Looking for a Patent Attorney
Do Your Research
Before hiring the first patent attorney you see based on a Google search, you should do your research. Before looking for patent attorneys, you should conduct a search on the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) website to identify any other similarly situated inventions that are already patented. That way, you can prevent yourself from costly legal fees if someone else already has a similar product patented.
Once you are ready to conduct your research, make sure you find a patent attorney who is experienced. However, newly admitted attorneys can also assist you in the process, and will be less expensive than hiring an attorney with 30 years of experience.
Know Where to Search
You can certainly speak to other inventors to find out what attorneys, if any, they used in their patent application. You can also search reliable sites, including Lawyers.com, using specific parameters. You may even want to hire a patent attorney who is knowledgeable in the type of invention you have. Therefore, if you have an electrical type of invention, you may want to find an attorney who is well versed in preparing such inventions.
Once you have a list of qualified patent attorneys to consider, you can and should conduct a simple Google search on them. Look for publications, reputable articles, and the like to learn more about each of the attorney’s qualifications. You can even call your state bar association and ask whether or not the attorneys remain in good standing as well as confirm their backgrounds.
Conduct Preliminary Interviews
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a small number of attorneys, you can conduct interviews to learn about their qualifications and costs for each respective lawyer. Make sure that each attorney provides you with upfront legal costs, potentially in writing, so that you will not be charged any unforeseen fees.
When you meet an attorney, come prepared with questions. Ask about some past patent applications, whether they have specific knowledge in your invention, and any other questions that you can think of.
Referrals are important. You can speak with friends and family who know of attorneys specializing in this area. More importantly, you can reach out to other inventors for referrals.
Ignore Physical Location
Don’t restrict yourself to a specific physical location. Remember that patent law is federal. The legal fees in a major city will be higher than those legal costs in a smaller city. Again, you can work with a patent attorney anywhere in the United States. You won’t need to meet the attorney in person necessarily as today’s day and age provides for a variety of communication methods, including the phone, Skype, e-mail, and other face-to-face interactions without physically being in the same room.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I only hire a registered patent attorney?
In the U.S., the USPTO has rules and regulations governing any patent attorney or agent. A patent attorney who is not recognized by the USPTO is not permitted by law to represent inventions before the USPTO. In addition, a USPTO registered patent attorney must show that they are of good moral character, have a good reputation, and have the requisite legal and technical knowledge.
2. What about patent agents?
Patent agents have passed the USPTO patent bar and are fully licensed and registered with the USPTO to oversee patent applications that are sent in by inventors. Such agents have specific technical backgrounds that provide them with the tools and knowledge to be able to properly analyze and review patent applications. However, keep in mind that patent agents are not attorneys, nor do they have the legal knowledge or ability to practice law or provide legal advice. This is for the patent attorneys to handle. With that being said, however, patent agents can in fact work for law firms in addition to the USPTO.
3. What is the process like after I hire a patent attorney?
After you hire a patent attorney, you as the inventor must execute a power of attorney authorization, which is filed with your patent office. After you appoint your attorney, you will not receive any communications from the patent office, but rather such communication will be directly with your attorney. With that being said, however, you are still free to reach out to the patent office should you have any questions regarding timeframe or the process itself. Remember that, if you want to find out additional information, you can and should always reach out to your attorney, since you are paying her to help you with your application. Sometimes the attorney may be busy, but surely a paralegal or legal secretary can provide you with updates as to the progress of your application so that you know where in the process your application is.
4. How is a patent agent different from a patent attorney?
While both professional require the review and analysis of patent applications, the main difference is that patent agents are not attorneys nor to they have the ability to provide legal advice. While they specialize in the patent industry, they do not specialize in the legalities of the application process. One similarity between the two, aside from both professions having significant knowledge in the field of patents, is that patent attorneys also have to take and pass the USPTO patent exam, along with patent agents.
5. How can I find a good patent attorney?
You’ll want to do your research. First and foremost, look online at some various attorney review sites to check out client review on patent attorneys in your area. Moreover, you should utilize your network of friends and family to see if anyone know or has used a patent attorney in the past. If you generally use social media, then you can even reach out to your distant contacts as you may have a connection to a patent attorney and not even know it. But either way, you’ll want to do your research and make some appointments for a free consultation before choosing an attorney.
A reputable patent attorney will be willing to meet with you and provide you with an opinion as to the likelihood of success in your patent application. If the attorney doesn’t provide you with such information, then you should seek out another attorney who is willing to provide some assistance without asking for money upfront.
If you need help learning more about either finding a good patent lawyer, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.