I do all my work on a fixed fee basis. This means that I do piece work and that I have an incentive to work as efficiently as possible.
Working efficiently does not mean sacrificing quality. I recently received comments from two inventors that said “I’m thrilled by the document’s clarity and thoroughness” and “It seems you have been able to make it almost from a single shot. It is one of the cleanest apps written that I have seen.”
I have been tweaking my patent writing technique over the last few years to whittle away the inefficiencies and improve quality at the same time.
The single most important thing in writing a patent application is for the attorney to understand the invention. If the attorney does not understand the invention and appreciate the subtle nuances of the technology, the attorney cannot write a good application.
I spend a lot of effort in learning the technology in the disclosure meeting. I do a vast majority of my disclosure meetings in person because I get a much better sense of the inventors and learn their invention better when I can see their body language, interact with their prototypes, and get to know them a little better as people.
Soon after the disclosure meeting, often within a day or two, I write the background, summary, and claims of the patent application. When I do this, I can capture the essence of the invention while it is fresh in my mind and I can force myself to succinctly summarize the invention. This exercise is the hardest part of writing a patent application: getting your terminology correct and defining the scope of the invention. If done well, the rest of the application is pretty straightforward to write because the claims and summary pick up all the important aspects of the invention.
When I understand the invention well, I can write the claims and summary easily. When I do not understand the invention well, this process is hard. Sometimes, I need to do some background investigation of the technology to understand the prior art, and often I watch my disclosure meeting video to listen to the inventor’s description again.
Understanding the invention comes with experience. Experience writing patents, experience with the technology, and experience with the inventors.
I was told that I needed to write 100 patent applications before I would start to understand the process. I found that to be true: it really takes a lot of practice to train your mind to capture the idea and document it in the form of a patent application.
The importance of experience with the technology cannot be understated. For many of my software related patent applications, I have experimented with the technology, have it running on my servers, or have a good, functional knowledge of the products or their competitors. Because of this, I can talk with the inventors directly about the product and ask how it differs from some other product or feature that I have used personally.
Having personal, repeated interactions with the inventors makes the whole process smoother. I get to know how the inventor likes to describe things, the best way to ask them a question, and what they like to see when they review the application. They know what to expect from the disclosure meeting, get to know my writing style, and get comfortable with my process.
There is no substitute for experience.