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Fast Turnaround

I really try to keep my turnaround times for patent applications as low as possible, and there are many reasons why, but the biggest reason is that I can turn out higher quality work than if I did it any other way.

Obviously, clients like quick turnaround because they know that I am working on their project. However, I think there is an optimum time to take for writing a patent application. Finishing the application too fast or too slow can have its effect on patent quality.

I tend to take a day or two after the interview with the inventor to mull the ideas around in my head, then I spend a good portion of a day, and maybe two, just writing claims and drawing the figures. After reviewing the claims and figures the next morning, I can then begin to write the application, which is usually easy after I have a good set of claims and figures.

For me, there is an optimum time to begin writing the application after the interview. Waiting a couple days before beginning is very important for me. First, I tend to think about the project consciously and subconsciously on and off during the day as it assimilates and begins to crystallize in my mind. Often, I review my notes or tape from the interview to clarify things, or I may do some background research. But I intentionally keep myself from beginning to write claims while this churns in the back of my head for a short period. This was a technique that worked for me when I was trying to solve difficult design problems as an engineer, where some of the best ideas came while taking a shower or lying awake at night.

I usually come to a point where I know I am ready to start. At this point, I know the background info, and have thought about the technology, the business situations, and any prior art to the point where I can begin writing claims and figures. I then draft and redraft claims using all sorts of techniques, and begin to sketch my figures. In this process, I stretch the invention, try to poke holes in the invention, look at what is critical and what is not, imagine different alternative embodiments and work-arounds, and think through potential infringers.

After working through the claims, I know the invention very thoroughly and writing the specification is very straightforward.

For me, the optimum period between the interview and beginning to write the claims can be as short as one or two days, or as long as two weeks on the outside. If it gets much longer than that, the ideas that were generated while it was churning in the back of my head may be lost, or I need to refresh by reviewing notes or listening to the tape again. This tends to drain my efficiency. If I start any sooner than a couple days, I still may be coming up with new ideas after I have the claims drafted, so I modify or rewrite the claims.

Another factor is that I tend to bill by the job and not by the hour. By working at an optimal pace, I can produce the best quality output at the lowest cost. This is where I am most efficient. If I were billing by the hour, the longer I could stretch it out and the more inefficient I can become, the more money I can pocket.

The point of all this is that there is a point of maximum efficiency which for me corresponds with highest quality. By understanding and optimizing this process, I can refine the process over time and vary it for my workload, schedule, and the difficulty of the particular project, all the while trying to use a process that is very efficient yet produces extremely high quality output.