A small to medium sized company is often faced with a dilemma when it comes time to protect intellectual property. Whether to file a patent application, what attorney to use for preparation of the application, when to file, and the list goes on. For a company that does not make these decisions on a regular basis, the process can seem quite overwhelming.
Applying for a patent, for example, may appear quite intimidating for the company. Although the USPTO has a number of resources to assist individual inventors and small entities (Inventor Resources), there still exists a gap. For example, a rural company wishing to patent an invention faces the task of first finding an attorney. If the company has used an attorney before, it may have been a general practice attorney that does not feel comfortable handling the patent matter. Thus, the company is left with the daunting task of finding a new attorney from a field which they know little about. How do you evaluate and compare attorneys?
Local bar associations may provide one avenue to at least identify local attorneys. However, in the field of intellectual property, it is not necessary for an attorney or firm to be local. The deciding factor ends up being, who do you feel comfortable with? Talking to other local companies may provide another resource. If other companies are using an intellectual property attorney, they can provide valuable information regarding that attorney and that attorney's firm.
The key? Once an attorney or firm can be identified, a valuable working relationship needs to be established with that attorney or firm. You want someone who is available, will not overcharge you, and can produce good work. Additionally, you want someone you can develop a long term relationship with.
The combination of these factors does not require an expensive firm. Many small to medium sized firms have exactly what you need. Although many firms can offer one or two of these factors, more and more often, you can find firms that offer all three. That should be the goal.
This short introduction provides some questions, some answers, and some points to be discussed in the future. It is the goal of this blog to move forward and assist the small to medium sized company overcome these issues and make protecting all forms of intellectual property much easier. Comments and questions are encouraged and welcome.