Hundreds of thousands of patents are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office every year. That means that hundreds of thousands of inventions are being protected so that their inventors can reliably capitalize on their ingenuity.
If you have a new product you’re bringing to market that embodies new ideas that are worth protecting, you may be considering hiring a patent lawyer to walk you through the process of filling out an application.
Before you start contacting and hiring lawyers though, you’ll want to read some of the pragmatic considerations we’ve listed below so you can better decide on what steps to take.
1. Not Everything Qualifies for a Patent
For every patent that gets accepted, tons get rejected.
Some of these rejections are due to mishaps with patent applications (which is why hiring an attorney is a good idea). Other times, patents are rejected because what a business is trying to patent can’t legally be protected.
Business methods, items that are contrary to public order, forms of biotechnology and other gray area objects are given wide birth by the U.S.P.T.O. If you’re unsure of whether or not your invention qualifies for a patent, a good lawyer should be able to let you know during your initial consultation.
2. You Don’t Technically Need a Lawyer to File a Patent
Just because people tend to hire a patent lawyer when filing a patent, doesn’t mean that it’s a necessity. As a matter of fact, it’s never a necessity to hire a lawyer for any reason.
Is it a good idea to hire one? Yes. But technically, you could go to the U.S.P.T.O. website, download the appropriate forms and file your own patent.
Just be prepared to get rejected quite a bit due to oversights and technicalities.
3. Your Patent Lawyer Should Understand Your Invention
Just because somebody is an experienced patent lawyer does not mean that he/she is the right patent lawyer for you.
Many patent lawyers specialize in particular areas and have very little experience in areas that are outside of that specialization window. If a lawyer tries to stretch their abilities into an area that they’re not comfortable with, mistakes can be made and your invention may not get adequate protection.
Make sure that you’re prepared to ask the lawyer questions that’ll give you a good idea of whether or not they have the know-how to operate in your niche.
4. Patent Lawyers Can be Costly
A patent lawyer will charge you an hourly rate that’s likely to be quite high. Depending on your patent’s complexity, you should expect to pay as low as $5,000.00 and in some cases, well over $10,000.00 to get your patent across the finish line.
Always over-budget in case, any issues crop up.
5. There Are Cheaper Alternatives to Patent Lawyers
The cheapest alternative to hiring a patent lawyer is DIY filing. We don’t recommend that though given the fact that patent filing takes a great deal of expertise.
Fortunately, there is a middle ground option. That option is to hire a patent agent.
Patent agents are licensed professionals that know how to file and manage patents. In many cases, their expertise and services will mirror what a lawyer will provide at a fraction of the cost.
The only catch is that a patent agent can’t represent you in court if your patent gets entangled in legal disputes.
6. Just Because You File a Solid Application Doesn’t Mean It’ll Be Approved
Even if you do everything right with your patent application, you may run into rejections. The people at the U.S.T.P.O. are notorious for being scattershot in what patents they approve and which they deny.
In many cases, whoever ends up reviewing your case can have a big impact on how quickly your patent gets approved and if it gets approved at all.
Bottom line… Be prepared and budget for application revisions.
7. You’ll Want to Offer Feedback on Your Patent Application
It can be tempting to give your lawyer the reins of your patent application and forget about it. That can lead to trouble later on though.
At the end of the day, nobody knows your invention better than you. That’s why it’s important that you review your attorney’s work before it’s submitted to the U.S.P.T.O. to ensure that they’ve adequately captured in writing your invention and what makes it unique.
8. Make Sure a Patent Makes Sense Before Going Through the Process
Every business comes up with ideas and throws things together that they think will be the next big thing. The truth is though, very few of those ideas and inventions go anywhere and many of them could have benefited from sitting in the incubator a little longer.
Get feedback on your invention from trustworthy and honest sources before putting your time and money into trying to get a patent on them.
A little bit of tough love and honesty with yourself can go a long way in saving you from wasting a ton of time and money.
Wrapping Up Things to Know Before Hiring a Patent Lawyer
We suggest that you think about each of the points we’ve outlined carefully prior to hiring a patent lawyer. While we understand that it can be tempting to get your idea protected and out into the world as soon as possible, believe us when we say that asking yourself hard questions now will save you massive headaches later.
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