Hiring an Attorney as an Inventor: The Dos and Don’ts

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Is an Attorney Necessary for Getting an Idea to Market

I use attorneys all the time.  I work with attorneys and I am even married to an attorney.  I believe you will definitely need to use an attorney from time to time during the process of getting an idea to market. But… I want you to keep some parameters in mind when hiring an attorney.

How to Go About Hiring a Good Attorney

Just like there are good car mechanics and bad mechanics, there are good attorneys and bad attorneys.  Do some due diligence when you are considering hiring one.  You don’t want to just go with the first one that comes up on a Google search.  Take the time to read reviews, or reach out to a local inventor group that might have recommendations.

If a local group isn’t an option, here’s a link to a virtual group.  Archimedes’ Offspring Meetup Group

Remember that attorneys specialize in specific practices.   You don’t ask an OB/GYN to do brain surgery so don’t ask a transactional attorney to do your patent.  You want to specifically find a Patent Attorney, so don’t be afraid to ask for specialties.

Working With an Attorney

Once you’ve chosen an attorney, remember that your attorney is “work for hire” and not your business partner.  YOU negotiate the “guts” of the deal NOT your attorney.   Your attorney gets it down on paper.

This is one of the times a licensing agent can be extremely beneficial.  If negotiating gives you heartburn, you may want to consider getting some help.

Watch out for lengthy billable hours!  A “good” deal is one that is balanced.  Attorneys generally start with an agreement heavily tipped to the client’s favor.  However, the other side is also starting with an agreement tipped heavily in their favor.  Translated—that means billable time to you.

By the time the other party pushes back and you finally get to a “balanced agreement”, you have hours of additional billable time.  That’s why a recommendation can be so helpful, someone may know of an attorney who takes a more conservative approach and cuts down on those billable hours.

Important to Keep in Mind When Hiring an Attorney

Your attorney makes his/her money on you whether you succeed or not.  Consequently, YOU have to see the balance if you want a deal.  It is your attorney’s job to inform you of the issues and dangers.  It is your job to make the business decisions.

You want to be confident that your attorney is familiar with patent work and not a crook when it comes to inflating billable hours.  Taking the time to shop around can save you a lot of money in the long run.

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