The difference between a good patent attorney and a bad patent attorney can be the difference between a valuable patent and a nice piece of paper to hang on your wall.
Valuable v. Wall Hanger
The difference between a good patent attorney and a bad patent attorney can be the difference between a valuable patent and a nice piece of paper to hang on your wall. Telling the difference between a good patent attorney and a bad patent attorney may be more difficult than it appears.
All patent attorneys have an engineering background. Most patent attorneys have a decent grasp on patent law. Most patent attorneys appear to be smart. Yet, any angel investor or institutional investor can tell you, not all patent attorneys draft good patents.
MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
So what is the best way to distinguish between a good patent attorney and a bad patent attorney? Ask them one simple question: Do they own their own patents?
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This simple question can provide a lot of insight. Think about it, would you want a chef who never tasted his own food cooking your dinner? Would you want an auto mechanic who only rides a bike working on your car? Of course not. Yet many patent attorneys have never filed a patent application for themselves and do not own any patents.
Always a reason
If you ask many patent attorneys if they have ever filed a patent application for themselves or own any patents, most will answer no. Now, attorneys are taught to think quickly on their feet and may give you a great sounding explanation why.
They may say they are not inventive enough to create something worth patenting. They may say that they leave the inventing to the clients. Let’s think about the logic here. If the patent attorney is not inventive, do you really want them to help capture your invention and help you make sure competitors do not design around your invention?
Not worth the money?
Maybe your patent attorney does not think patents are worth investing in? If this is the case, then why are they charging you thousands of dollars to prepare your patent application?
Maybe they do not have the free time? If they do not have the free time to invent something, then how can they appreciate all the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into your invention?
On the other hand, if a patent attorney has invested their time and money into their own patent, they understand what it is like to be a start-up or small business. The patent attorney understands that every dollar counts to a start-up or small business and that a patent is a big investment. The problem with a patent attorney who does not own his own patent is the same problem we have with Congress. When Congress spends other peoples’ money, they don’t really care how much they spend because it isn’t their money.
Cares about you
When a patent attorney that does not own a patent, they don’t care how much a client spends on a patent. When your patent attorney does own their own patent, they will be much more careful about how they charge you.
They will make sure to be extra careful not to overlook anything or make mistakes because they fully understand the consequences to a deficient patent.
A great patent attorney not only understands patent law and has an engineering degree, a great patent attorney understands inventing, running a business, and budgeting. The best way for a patent attorney to gain this understanding is to experience starting a business and investing in their own patent. So if you are looking for a great patent attorney, the first thing you should ask them is “Do you own a patent?” If the answer is no, move on to the next candidate. If the answer is yes, rest assured, you have found a great patent attorney.
Devin Miller (IP Attorney)
Small business owner
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