If you have an invention that you want to protect with a patent, then hiring a patent attorney is an important part of the process. After all, there is a lot of complicated paperwork associated with filing for a patent through the USPTO; if you do not fill it out properly, your patent may not be granted, which leaves your invention prone to duplication and theft by competitors. Some inventors steer away from hiring an attorney to oversee their patent process because they fear it will be overly costly. But while you can certainly pay a fortune for patent law services if you're not careful, there are plenty of ways to save. Here's a look.
Get an estimate upfront.
Some patent attorneys offer brief, free consultations, during which you can discuss your needs and they will tell you how they can help you. They should also give you an estimate for their services. It may not be precise — it may be a range — but it will at least give you an idea of what you can expect to pay. Get an estimate from two or three different attorneys so you can compare the prices and make sure you're getting a good deal. If the price you are quoted seems way too high, don't be afraid to ask the lawyer if there is anything you can do to keep costs down. They may tell you that if you fill out certain paperwork yourself and just have them look it over, they will reduce the fee.
Have everything prepared before your meeting.
Most patent attorneys bill on an hourly rate, so the sooner you are finished and out of their office, the less you will pay. Do what you can to get everything organized and ready before your meeting so that you don't waste time shuffling through paperwork or looking for certain information. Label everything, file it under separate tabs, and read through all of the paperwork before you sit down in your lawyer's office so you know exactly what questions to ask.
Consider using an online service.
Patent laws are federal laws. In other words, the laws are the same in Mississippi as they are in Oregon, New York, and so forth. For this reason, there's nothing wrong with hiring an out-of-state attorney if they are reputable and offer you a good price. You can communicate via Skype and email about your case. This may be a good strategy to use if you live in an area with a high cost of living. For instance, if you live in New York City, the local attorneys are sure to charge high rates, but you may be able to remotely hire an attorney from New Orleans for a lot less.
Bring someone with you, if possible.
If you have a business partner or a colleague who knows your invention well, consider bringing them along with you to your meeting with the attorney. Or, if you are using a lawyer who lives remotely, have them be present when you're chatting and emailing with the attorney. They may remember to bring up questions and concerns that you have not thought about. They can also help you remember the instructions and guidance that the attorney gives you, which may save you from having to call the lawyer back or schedule a second (billed) meeting.
Filing a patent may be a complex process in your eyes, but it is one of the easier tasks that patent lawyers handle on a regular basis. Most any attorney who works in patent law should be able to tackle this for you, so shop around and find one who will do it at an affordable rate. To learn more about the services that patent attorneys can provide, contact law firms like the Lingbeck Law Office.