By: RICK SUTTON
From the solo entrepreneur with a cutting-edge innovation to the budding startup company rolling out a new, (as of yet) unrivaled product on the market, a patent is a must for anyone looking to protect and safeguard their inventions and intellectual property.
The question in regards to this common business interest is, When should you hire a patent attorney?
The answer is simple. There is no wrong time to retain the services of an IP lawyer, with one caveat — we recommend that the sooner in the patent process you have legal representation, the better since every point in the patent timeline is a crucial step.
Retain an IP Lawyer as Soon as Possible
The earlier you bring a patent attorney on board, the better they can guide you through the process and help you avoid costly mistakes. Here are some key scenarios when it is important to hire a patent attorney:
When Developing a New Product
In the early stages of developing a new product that you’d like to patent, it’s essential to consult with a patent attorney to assess the potential patentability of the product. With the ear of a patent attorney, you should ask the following questions: Is the product or invention unique? Has it, or something similar, been patented before? An attorney can conduct a patent search and provide a legal opinion on whether it meets standard legal requirements — including novelty, non-obviousness and usefulness.
When Filing a Patent Application
The patent process can be complex and requires careful attention to detail. If an individual or company attempts to file a patent application on their own and makes a mistake, it may be rejected. Even if a patent is obtained without the help of an IP attorney, it may not provide adequate protection for your invention. An attorney drafting and filing an application can ensure it is correct the first time and provides adequate protection for the patent’s entire 20-year term. They can also provide guidance on the type of patent application to file, i.e. provisional or non-provisional applications.
When Receiving Notice from the USPTO
After filing a patent application, your patent attorney may receive an office action from the United State Patent and Trademark Office; an office action is a notification listing any possible objections or rejections to your drafted patent application. Don’t worry — this is defensible with the help of an experienced IP attorney. A critical point in the patent application process, it’s essential to hire a lawyer to review the office action and prepare a response to address any objections or rejections, and work toward getting the determination reversed and the patent application approved.
When Defending a Patent
If there was ever a time to have an experienced IP attorney in your corner, it’s now. For an applicant who may receive notice of infringement from a competitor or who believes that their USPTO-approved patent is being infringed upon, it’s crucial to hire an IP attorney to represent them in litigation proceedings. Patent litigation can be complex, and it’s essential to have an attorney experienced in intellectual property law who can navigate the legal process on their client’s behalf.
Other Considerations for Hiring a Patent Attorney
A patent attorney plays an integral role in every phase of the patent process. Consider some other key factors and ask important questions before retaining a law firm’s services:
- What is the attorney’s experience and expertise in your specific industry/technology focus?
- What is their track record in prosecuting and/or defending patents?
- What’s their level of client communication and responsiveness?
- What are their fees concerning their scope of services?
Find the Best IP Legal Protection
Whether individual inventor or established enterprise, foregoing the services of an IP attorney means putting your rights — and the unique assets of your invention or product — at legal risk, which could have significant consequences in terms of lost profits, or an inability to prevent others from copying the invention.
The collective experience of the attorneys at Patterson Thuente helps clients in the patent process avoid these liabilities, protect their assets, and profit from their patented creations. From agriculture to telecommunications, artificial intelligence to entertainment, our philosophy is that patent protection is not just about getting patents granted; it’s about obtaining valuable patents that can be used as part of a comprehensive offensive and defensive business strategy.
If you’re in the market for patent protection, give us a call. We’ll give power to your ideas.