The Business of Patent Law

Patent Quality

The basis of the patent system is a reliance by the public on the strength of issued patents. Every group and advocate has complained of this one issue in one way or another. In some cases, such as in Europe, there is a move afoot to abolish at least a portion of the patent system which may or may not cover most of the inventions in the last 10 years. In other cases, groups like EFF have started a publicized ‘patent-busting’ campaign.

The people with a vested interest, the patent holders themselves, also want their patent to be respected and honored without having to resort to costly litigation.

What can be done about it? I think everybody should take some responsibility for the solution. There are basically two groups involved, the patent practitioners and the PTO.

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The Holistic Advisor

In talking with a client last week, we got on one of our favorite topics: almost nobody has the big picture in mind when it comes to patent protection.

The client was a CEO of a small company with a little revenue and a couple of very broad and early patents in their rapidly developing field. His biggest complaint is that most of the patent and legal experts know their specialty, but cannot integrate it into a cohesive business plan.

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Processes in One’s Own Business

One book that I really liked was The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. I read the book about 6 or 7 years ago and it changed my thinking on business practices.

The basic premise of the book, as I remember it, is for entrepreneurs to free themselves from the slavery of operating the business. In essence, each person in the business should be easily replaceable. Having been through several layoffs in my career and knowing first hand the terror that strikes the hearts of people when they are told they are “replaceable,” this concept was hard to swallow.

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Clients Who Call All The Time—I Love Them

One of the best things about fixed fee work is that the clients have every reason to call. I am sure that if I billed by the hour, I would have fewer interruptions and not have to ‘waste’ my time answering simple questions. I, on the other hand, encourage clients to call.

Clients want responsiveness and can’t get it from the big firms, but they can get it from me.

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Why Patent Law is SO Much Better than Any Other Type of Practice

Never mind that patent attorneys make more money, garner more respect and envy from other types of lawyers, or routinely handle the most valuable assets of a company. The reason why patent law is so much better than any other type of practice is that we only deal with happy people who value our services.

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