You may have a great business idea but usually that’s not enough. In order to flourish, your idea must not only be developed and nourished, but it also needs to be protected. So filing a patent with the government of the U.S. is not going to cut it. It is a good start, but it’s just that – s start. So to make sure that your idea is protected you need an effective patent attorney. So how do you find a good patent attorney? Here are some recommendations that will facilitate your search.
Searching through your local phone book to find a lawyer may be yesterday’s news, but you should avoid using the Google search engine as well. A regular search will show you the promotional sites with indistinguishable services. Also, try and avoid as much as possible the 800 numbers and high-templated websites – the ones with lots of stock images and primary-colored fonts. Before starting to search for the ideal lawyer, do your homework first and know exactly for what and whom are you looking for.
Intellectual property covers a wide array of legal issues, whether we’re talking about entertainment, media or other areas. Assess your needs before deciding whether you need and want to work with a lawyer that specifically deals in patents. Most often, businesses focus solely on creating, marketing and selling attractive and innovative products. If you’re part of this category you should be looking for someone who is specialized in this area and his activity or practice is focused just on patents and copyright. However, if your company is focused on online pursuits or publishing, we recommend you find a lawyer that deals primarily in the First Amendment and the information technology law areas.
If you’re one of the lucky few that already benefit from legal counsel, assess whether they are able to deal with patents. However, don’t make the mistake of using your current lawyer as a substitute for the one you need and want.
So, before hiring the attorney you should have all your bases covered: be aware of the amount of competition you will have with other patent holders in your area. Go and check out the U.S. Patent Office website to identify your competition. An active space translated into a lot of effort and resources spent to secure the longevity, prosperity and safety of your product’s future. Therefore, to ensure that your product will exist in the future, find an attorney with remarkable credentials and expertise in the domain. However, there is a downside to this, the better the lawyer, the higher the costs.
Once you’ve taken the first step, i.e. determining what you are looking for, don’t limit your search by only asking around in your social and business circles to recommend someone reliable. There are also websites that can help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Lawyers.com is a perfect example on how to use the specific parameters you laid out and the geographic area as well. Just select the “business” topic and check for the area of practice you are interested in. Afterwards you can select a sub-category that will allow you to specify your additional needs.
Now that’s out the way, you can use the Google search engine. Google search the people from your short list of lawyers and look for indicators pertaining to their reputation, press quotes and other such aspects. This will help you assess the situation better. Should the attorney be tied up with ongoing cases, it is recommended you should pass on that person. If the data you find online is not enough you can always call the Bar Association of your state and ask them about the background of the potential candidates.
So now that the homework is out of the way, reach out to the 4 or 5 great candidates and schedule individual preliminary interviews. This is the best way to go given the fact that the lawyer will be the person with whom you’ll spend a lot of time and money and determine the prosperity of your business.
The preliminary interview should be exactly like a business meeting. You need to be prepared, dressed for the occasion and offer the candidate relevant information that will determine whether he or she is fit for the position. After all, it’s a two-way street. Also, don’t forget to ask questions regarding your business like: In what way does he or she go about a patent search? What other patents has he or she accomplished to register in the past? How much time does it need to patent a product? What are the costs you should be expecting? Other aspects such as conflicts of interests should be covered as well. Does she or he represent any interests that are in opposition or intersect with your business?
To conclude, make sure you have as much relevant information as possible so that you can go in an interview prepared. This will help you tremendously and determine which candidate is right for your business.