Choosing the best patent law firms is usually a matter of understanding what kind of patent services you are looking for, and interviewing a couple of different firms in order to get a broader sense of your options. Patent work is one of the most nuanced legal fields, but different patent law firms have different expertise. Some are better at filing patents at the outset, while others are primarily focused on defending patents that already exist. Similarly, some are better equipped to work with small inventors, while others’ main clients are major corporations. The best patent law firms will be easier to identify if you enter the search with a list of key criteria.
Patents are some of the most complex intellectual property rights an inventor can own. They are often also some of the most valuable. Choosing the right patent attorney or firm can lend both peace of mind and an effective, sound business strategy. Most patent law firms keep relationships with clients for many years. It is important, then, that you choose patent firms based on what they will be able to do for you specifically — not just on their reputation or their record with other clients.
This is not to say that reputation and record are unimportant. In most cases, it is wise to begin by considering a range of patent law firms in your area. Asking friends and colleagues for references is often a good place to start.
Most patent law firms engage in independent advertising, both online and in patent-related publications. Looking through a firm’s description of itself and its services can be a good way to preliminarily assess whether a given firm does the kind of work that you need. Your local bar association may also have a list of registered patent law firms in your area.
It is not always possible to discern the real feeling of a law firm from promotional material. For this reason, many patent law firms encourage prospective clients to set up informational interviews. These interviews are a chance for you to present your project, outline the scope of the services you think you will need, and see how the attorneys respond.
Set up a few of these meetings, and bring specific details with you. Be upfront with what you want the lawyers to do, and be clear about the kinds of services you do and do not anticipate needing. If all that you need is one-time patent searching services, for instance, be sure to say so. Law firms that specialize in filing or defending patent law violation cases or firms that are dedicated to managing corporate patent portfolios may not be interested in taking on simple search cases — and they may not be the best equipped to do so in any event.
Patent law firms should always be upfront about the kinds of cases they normally handle, as well as their success record. If this information is not immediately available, ask. Most of the time, a patent law firm needs to work well with you as much as you need to work well with it. This includes everything from scope of service and attorney involvement to pricing structure and fee base. There is no right or wrong way to choose patent law firms, but having a clear sense of what you need — and having the wherewithal to ask the right questions — will make finding the best choice for you much easier.