Patent attorneys are hard-to-find because there’s so few of them. It’s estimated that last year, there are only 26,000 registered patent attorneys. What’s really difficult about this, is that big clients provide the vast majority of patent work. It clients meaning corporations, universities, billionaire, and research labs. The reason why this makes it worse is that big clients don’t fire teams of solo patten attorneys they hire in Normas firms, employing in Normas numbers of patten attorneys. Big firms require their associates, the vast majority of practicing patent attorneys, to work up to 2000 hours per year. Those are just the billable hours. Who knows how long that really is. So, most patent attorneys don’t get out much. And the ones that do tend not to be in charge of their time. So being a solo patent attorney is pretty special, or at least I think so.
Big firm patten attorneys have lots of work, and they get paid very well, and that’s just fine. Well really, it’s fine for them. I thrive on interaction, and learning from my expert inventors. It’s that enthusiasm, that believe in oneself, and the expertise that good clients tend to have. Even with moderately large clients, when I snare one, because I’m a solo patent attorney, I am able to meet with the people who are in charge of the IP, and I don’t have to be shoved in a hole, working by myself, having directions dictated to me, and never meeting up with the people whose initiatives I’m supposed to carry out. With me, inventors get a chance to work through their inventions with the attorney. With a willing and able client, I might have the best job in the world.
However, it takes a clever client to find a good solo patent attorney. Word-of-mouth is good, but that means you’re probably talking to an attorney of some other kind, already. If you end up being referred to a good solo patent attorney, it’s probably because you were already working on building a business around the invention, and were speaking with a business attorney. Ergo, I’m supposed to hobnob with small business attorneys.
One of the big problems with being a patent attorney is misconceptions held by inventors relating to the quantity of work that is necessary in order to achieve an award of a patent. A good patent attorney is able to break down some of the surprising aspects of pursuing a patent, such as anticipating filing multiple applications. An excellent patent attorney, can take pains to try to help the inventor in fact work through which invention is able to be protected with the least amount of filings. That’s a significant impediment to a patent attorney, because the work of performing an application requires so much work, that it’s extremely limiting to ask that a patent application be completed into operative form, that is, a non-provisional application it’s significantly more workable for a patent attorney to file a provisional application, and then work out with the inventors how to move on from there. The need for so much work to be done upfront, to minimize the overall cost for a small inventor, results in big firms avoiding taking small clients.
In fact, one large patent firm in Raleigh says explicitly on their website, “blank blank only works with corporate and university clients.”
Hopefully, those attorneys will think of me, when a solo inventor comes their way. Because solo inventors will inevitably find the biggest offices first, it’s my job to make sure that the big offices are aware that I’m available. So now I’m about to walk into a lunch, for the WCBA 50th year member meeting, and maybe I’ll be able to make those connections. I do it so that I can find a small inventor, and so they can find me.