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Invent Something? Plan Marketing Carefully” Offers Good Advice

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In a column in the The Herald in Bradenton, Florida, entitled “Invent Something? Plan Marketing Carefully“, business columnist Jerry Osteryoung offers good advice to inventors looking to hire a patent attorney to assist them in securing legal rights to their ideas.


Jerry Osteryoung is a finance professor at Florida State University and executive director of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University’s College of Business.


Jerry makes some good points in his column and I agree with much of the advice given. I would be careful, however, in judging a patent attorney’s capabilities by the average amount of time it takes to get a patent issued.


The time it takes to get a patent from filing to issuance is largely dependent upon a number of factors outside of the control of the patent attorney preparing and filing the patent application. For example, software patents and patents relating to internet-related ideas take longer than patents issued for mechanical devices (i.e.-such as a mousetrap).


A patent attorney that has a good portion of his practice devoted to software patents and internet patents will appear to have much slower approval times than someone that focuses exclusively on mechanical devices.


If you happen to look simply at the patent prosecution times of a particular patent attorney without regard to the technologies covered, you will naturally get very skewed results.


A significant amount of research can now be done relating to a patent attorney before even stepping foot in his or her office. For example, you want to verify that the attorney is licensed to practice before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and can do so by visiting the Roster of Registered Patent Attorneys and Patent Agents maintained by the U.S. Patent Office.


Every Registered Patent Attorney or Agent is issued a registration number and must submit this number with all documents filed on behalf of an inventor. Additionally, the database of issued patents maintained by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office can be accessed online and you can review patents written by an attorney that you are interested in working with.


One question you might want to ask your patent attorney, however, is how long he or she expects to take from being retained to the FILING of the patent. This time period is often much more within a patent attorney’s control and a good patent attorney will put an extremely high priority on having the application filed as soon as possible.

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