Pro Se NO Way – Patent Attorney Need not apply!

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Do you need a Patent Attorney?

What does filing ProSe mean?

It means you did it yourself with a patent attorney in regards to filing your provisional patent or your utility patent.  This may seem like a good idea, or at least one that can save you a lot of money.  But I always try to caution new inventors against it.  Why?  Well there’s a reason people spend a lot of time and end up with student loan debt up to their eyeballs becoming attorneys.  It’s a learned skill.  A significantly learned skill.  To do it right, and well, you need the know how.  

That means it’s not something you can learn by reading a few How To Books or going to a Saturday morning class.  Patent Attorneys have literally spent years learning their trade.  There is no template you can purchase online or download for free, fill in the blanks, and figure your document is on the same level as one written by someone who has hundreds of hours experience behind them.

A good patent is a work of art, unique unto itself.  And believe me when I tell you that a patent examiner can tell the difference between a template and a patent done to the specifics of a unique invention immediately. Guess which one gets read and which one gets thrown out?

Now legally, filing ProSe is allowed.  Your risk for issues arise if you ever need to go to court.  If it is not done well, and all the required parts aren’t included, your patent will not stand up.  A pretty exact protocol needs to be followed and that’s why using a registered patent attorney is in your best interest.  So that your legal document can stand up to a legal review.

There are some variables you can control when working with a patent attorney that keep the power in your hands.  You want to make sure you get a comprehensive patent search completed by a neutral third party.  Why? Well for one thing third parties usually charge a flat rate rather than an hourly fee.  It also means you can provide the attorney the comprehensive report and tell them how you want the framework of the patent to be completed.

The other variable you can control is the hourly rate.  Like every profession, there are good and bad attorneys and their costs can range from $70/hour- $650/hour.  A higher rate does not mean a better attorney.  It’s always best to ask them prior to any work being done to estimate how many hours they think it will take.  A good provisional patent should average around 15-20 hours and a full utility patent should take around 30-40 hours.  This can vary depending on the complexity of the product, but it gives you a ballpark.  If an attorney estimates 50+ hours, go with someone else!  Likewise, if he or she says 10 hours, probably best to look elsewhere then too.

If you are hoping to get your product licensed, I can tell you that any quality licensee will ask before any other negotiations take place, who was the registered patent attorney?  If the answer is you did it ProSe, they won’t move forward.  Because they don’t want to deal with a product they aren’t confident can stand up in court.

Most inventors tell me the big draw behind filing ProSe is that they want to save money.  And while I can understand that, the hard truth is that the cost of the patent, the design work, the engineering and the first short run, is still less than what you will spend on marketing and selling.  So you may want to be honest with yourself early on, do you have the funding it takes to get this to market?  And if you don’t even have the money to get the patent done right, maybe you should be honest with yourself about proceeding before you dump a bunch of money down a hole.

For more information on the initial guidelines of trying to get your invention to market, check out our free resource, the Inventor’s Galaxy Guide on the Inventor Lady website.  We also have a number of virtual meeting platforms where you can come and join us in a safe environment to ask your questions.


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