Ask Questions Before Hiring a Patent Lawyer
So you have a new innovation and are looking to hire a patent law firm to protect it? Or perhaps there’s an infringement on your existing patent and your firm could use the services of a competent Colorado patent attorney. Regardless of the situation you’re currently in, it’s critical that you do your due diligence to make sure that you get the right patent lawyer for your needs.
Patent law is meant to protect intellectual property. The law was first used more than 228 years ago. Since then, the law has been applied countless times in America and elsewhere.
So how do you tell that you’ve found a patent attorney in Colorado that will best handle your intellectual property issue? The best way is to interview several patent attorneys before settling on the best fit for you. Here are four essential questions to ask during your first interview with each of your potential patent lawyers.
1. What’s Your Legal Experience?
Many of the law firm’s websites you visit will advertise services in intellectual property issues. This, however, does not mean that each of these companies has actual experience when it comes to intellectual property practice, or that they have ever successfully prosecuted cases before the relevant patent and trademark office.
You want a firm with patent attorneys who have considerable experience in dealing with patent filings. Find out whether the firm is licensed before the relevant patent body, and whether they have a good standing with the body. Next, inquire how many patent applications, on average, they file per year.
Find out what experience the firm has in the international patent process, and how clients can expect to benefit from their services. Don’t forget to ask about the firm’s success rate.
2. What’s Your Technical Experience?
All patent attorneys must have a degree of technical experience to pass the patent bar. They must possess a bachelor’s degree in a certain technical field or its equivalent.
But having a bachelor’s degree in a technical field does not make every trademark lawyer the right fit for you.
What you want is a patent lawyer with a good grasp of the technology your firm is developing. Patent attorneys with a background in biology, for instance, may not be the right fit for your firm if your invention is in the field of nanotechnology.
3. Can Your Patent Lawyer Explain Their Work Process?
During the patent process, you and your patent lawyer will need to work very closely. It’s, therefore, important that you look for patent attorneys you can work well with. Get to understand your potential patent lawyer well. Will the patent attorney you’re speaking to the one to write your patent application, or will associates be working on your case as well?
Find out whether the patent law firm typically represents individual inventors, small businesses, large corporations, or a mix of them all. Get to know what process the attorney will follow when filing your application, and the approximate time the process will take.
Inquire how often the attorney meets with clients, and whether there are any potential hurdles for your case.
4. Can You Provide References?
Before you decide on a specific patent law firm, it’s always a good idea to talk to companies like yours who have dealt with the patent attorneys before. Most top attorneys will respond positively to your request for a list of clients like you they have served in the past.
Of course, some patent lawyers will be hesitant to reveal their client’s identities, especially where confidentiality is at stake. However, you can tell from the way an attorney reacts to your request for references if their working style will suit you or not.
Generally, you want to hire an attorney who is upfront in the way they communicate.
Before starting a long-term working relationship with a patent law firm, it’s your responsibility to find out as much about them as possible. After all, your business, money, and IP assets are all at stake, and committing to the wrong hiring decision can prove disastrous.