A patent attorney is a critical member of your team if you have an idea for an invention. From the moment you have a concept in your mind, it is essential to get proper counsel to document, draft, apply for, and obtain a patent. A patent attorney is expertly trained and has intimate knowledge of the patent system to help you get that patent.
Once you’ve got the patent in hand, a patent attorney continues to serve you by defending against infringement and proper licensing, selling, or maintaining your patent throughout the term of the patent grant.
Drafting patent applications is what most people think about when they think about a patent attorney. And with good reason. This phase of a patent application is crucial. The language used in a patent application and the patent claims must be carefully crafted. Consider this – should you use the word “comprising” or “consisting” when claiming elements of your invention? A single word can change the meaning of the entire patent and result in something other than what the inventor intended.
Patent attorneys have extensive knowledge of both the law and the patent system. They draft patent applications every day and work with inventors and patent examiners. They know the critical language that must be present in patent applications. They know how to navigate the patent office bureaucracy. They follow the case law, which shapes the boundaries of how patent applications must be drafted and how patents are interpreted, and they regularly enforce patents in court.
This results in a level of knowledge that an inventor seldom can achieve on his or her own. Using a patent attorney frees an inventor to expend their efforts in developing technology and marketing their products while delegating the drafting and negotiating to those who do that every day.
One of the most important roles a patent attorney plays is dealing with the patent office on your behalf. The patent office has thousands of patent examiners whose job is to find things wrong with your application and patent claims.
Patent applications take years to get through the patent office and involve continuous communication between the applicant and the examiner. Patent attorneys not only have extensive training in patent law, but they have experience in navigating the often-confusing patent office system on your behalf.
A patent attorney regularly deals with other inventors and other technical fields and can counsel you on both the strength of your patent and how you can maximize the benefit of your invention. Are you looking to develop your own products? Are you looking to license out your patent as soon as possible? Are you looking to sell your patent? These are all areas of business that patent attorneys have experience in and can assist with by providing you, sound counsel.
Perhaps you think you’ve invented something that has one application. By reviewing the technology and analyzing the invention, a patent attorney often can draft claims that become even more valuable several years later when something is on the market that could not have even been imagined when you first submitted your application.
If you work for a company, there is a good chance your employment agreement states that your employer has the legal rights to any intellectual property you develop. Does this mean that you can’t get a patent for yourself? No – but it does mean that you should have a patent attorney review your agreement to ensure you take the correct legal steps, properly document the work you perform in developing your ideas, and obtain any necessary releases/approvals from your employer.
Conversely, are you a business owner? Do you know how to protect your business’s resources if one of your employees develops something that can be patented?
It may sound a bit odd, but you really need to consider how your patent will be owned if you are married. A patent has ownership similar to other types of property. If you obtain a patent and subsequently get divorced, the patent is likely to be considered a marital asset, regardless of whether your spouse had anything to do with the invention. While patent attorneys aren’t typically practicing estate planning, the patent’s ownership’s proper legal setup should be discussed.
Once a patent is granted, it must be protected against infringement. Competitors will try to sidestep the claims of your patent or will outright copy it. When this happens, a patent attorney will act on your behalf to enforce the patent, including filing appropriate lawsuits.
Remember, a patent attorney is part of your team. Whether you’re a garage inventor, a biopharmaceutical developer, or anything in between, a patent attorney will act for you to maximize your investment. Their knowledge and experience will help you through every step of the life of your patent.
If you are looking for an experienced patent attorney, call Hankin Patent Law, APC today to schedule your free initial consultation. We work with national and international clients. If you decide not to move forward with our services, we guarantee that any information you provide will be kept completely confidential.