If you have an innovation, protect your intellectual property right by getting a patent. If somebody infringes on your existing patent, the best way to resolve such an issue is to hire a patent lawyer and file an infringement case. In either case, an expert patent lawyer can help protect your right over such innovation and answer the question of why you need an attorney for a patent. But aside from finally deciding to get legal counsel to advance your case, you also have to exercise due diligence in making sure that the lawyer you’ll hire is the right one for your unique needs.
Patent law has been institutionalized to protect an inventor’s intellectual property rights. Though the same law has been first asserted over 228 years ago, its principles are still timely and applicable to modern-day cases. So, how do you know that the patent lawyer you’re eyeing to hire is the right one for you? Well, the best way to find out is to ask him these questions.
Question #1: Can you tell me more about your legal experience, especially with patents?
If you look at most of the law firm’s websites, they often advertise that they offer legal services for settling intellectual property cases. However, this doesn’t mean that all their lawyers are experienced in handling such a lawsuit or that the firm has a proven track record of winning prosecuted cases in this law province.
If you want to win the case, you need to work with a lawyer with considerable experience in patent filings. Check if the said firm or legal practitioner is licensed by a renowned patent body. Likewise, check if they have a good standing with such licensing body. After that, also check the number of patent applications they file, on average, per year. Again, ask your lawyer if he has experience with the international patent process and how you can benefit from his services.
Question #2: What is your technical experience?
Every patent attorney needs to possess a certain degree of technical experience to pass and ace the patent bar. One of the requirements is for them to have a bachelor’s degree related to a technical field. However, this bachelor’s degree doesn’t automatically mean that a particular patent lawyer is the right fit for your needs.
It would benefit you most if you work with someone who understands the technology you’re developing. For example, you’re applying for a patent over a breakthrough in nanotechnology. A lawyer who has a biology background may not be the one who ‘speaks your language.’
Question #3: How do you get things done?
As you go through the whole patent process, you’ll be working closely with your lawyer. Given this, it’s essential that you can work well together. Ask your prospective lawyer’s way of getting things done. By simply asking this question, you’ll know whether or not you will get along.
Ask if his associates will also be on board the patent application. You can also research how this lawyer represents businesses, individual inventors, and large corporations. Get to know how well they can stick to client timelines and whether you’re likely to meet hurdles along the way.
Question #4: Can you provide a list of past clients who has a similar case?
Your intellectual property is at stake here, so you need to make sure you’re in good and capable handles. Before deciding to work with a specific lawyer or law firm, exercise due diligence by surveying your prospective lawyer’s past clients and ask them for feedback. Their words will have an excellent weight since they’ve worked with the said lawyer in the past. If your lawyer is willing to give you references, then that’s a good sign that they’re confident about their services.
Question #5: What are the pros and cons of filing for a patent?
You also need to ask your lawyer the advantages and disadvantages of filing for a patent in your case. The right patent attorney can give you an honest and wise legal assessment of how your case might turn out. It’s also good to provide an honest evaluation of the possible courses of action you should take.
Question #6: Will taking my case give rise to a conflict of interest on your end?
If a family member or someone close to your patent lawyer has a stake in the outcome of your patent case, they should inhibit. It’s ethical for the lawyer to stay away from the case if he has a stake in it. The confidential information that may be shared by virtue of the attorney and client relationship can put the latter at a disadvantage. So, before you work with or disclose crucial information, ask your lawyer first if your case can put him in a position that might result in a conflict of interest.
Question #7: How do you bill your clients?
It’s also crucial that you know how your prospective lawyer charges their clients. Will they charge you a flat rate, hourly rate, or project bill? If they charge hourly, also ask what’s their hourly rate. The same goes for if it’s per project or flat rate. It’s best to know these details early on to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings later on.
Working with a patent lawyer has a lot of perks. However, you can only guarantee a higher chance of getting a favorable decision if you work with the one that understands your unique needs and speaks your language.