How to Choose a Patent Attorney

While searching for a patent professional, you may notice the following:

  1. Some professionals are attorneys and others are agents.
  2. Patent attorneys charge more than most patent agents.
  3. There is a huge disparity in fees charged by each professional.


A few tips to select a patent professional are:

1. Attorneys usually bill by the hour, and while we might offer you a flat fee, internally all fees are calculated based on an estimated number of hours one is most likely going to spend on the matter.


2. The Internet has a plethora of professionals who would draft an initial non-provisional application (main utility filing) for as little as $3,000, it is our opinion that those professionals are doing you a disservice, since the success rate of getting a patent allowed with such professionals would most probably be extremely slim. What good is a cheap service if it doesn’t result in  a patent? At an average it takes 2-4 years to get a patent granted. That means, filing a patent application (yes, it is only an application until granted) is just one step of many many more to come.


3. Getting a patent allowed is a complicated process and takes time to strategize and plan.  And it all starts from the initial drafting. In that respect, patent applications are no different than a game of chess, where predicting the other party’s move in advance can result in winning the game.  However, if the initial execution is flawed (as it may be with cheap offerings available online), everything will fall down like a house of cards.


4. If you can, prefer patent attorneys over patent agents. While agents market themselves as “same as an attorney, but cheaper,” you should note that they did not go to law school, and did not pass any state bar exam. While agents, like attorneys, have passed the patent bar exam, the patent bar exam has nothing to do with a substantive understanding of the law. The patent bar exam is only a test of procedural rules followed by the USPTO. The fact is law school (and a state bar exam) assists an attorney to develop certain skill sets (like persuasive writing, negotiation skills, providing a legal analysis of case law when the examiner does not play nicely, etc.) which a non-lawyer patent agent is not trained to appreciate.


5. Finally, always ask for samples of past patent work. You should be careful if an attorney provides you a patent application publication as a sample. Patent publications are patent applications that have been published. They are not patents. Read the document caption carefully, it will let you know if it’s a patent application or patented matter.  In the header section a patent publication will state “United States Patent Application Publication,” while an issued patent will state “United States Patent.” To see a patent document, please look at our portfolio section for examples. So, while a patent application document may look similar to an issued patent, an application may very well be abandoned ( and thus may not be significant). 


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