When Do You Need a Patent Attorney?
The most obvious time that you need a patent attorney is when you have invented a new product, developed innovative software, or devised a new process for manufacturing something. At this time, you should patent your development so that other people cannot steal it and profit from your idea.
This requires meeting specific requirements. Since these requirements can be complex, it's a good idea to get the help of a patent lawyer. This will ensure that nothing is missed.
On other times it's a good idea to have the assistance of a patent attorney when you need to make sure that no one else has come up with the idea before you did. Then, the lawyer's office will conduct a patent search for you. Doing the search before you apply ensures that you don't waste your money on trying to patent an idea that isn't as new as you think it is.
The other big situation that calls for the involvement of a patent lawyer is when you find someone infringing on your existing patent. Then, you'll need to either sue the offender or get him or her to pay you a licensing fee. Whichever way you choose to go, it will be much easier with a lawyer at your side. Many people are more willing to negotiate if they think the alternative is being sued.
If a patent infringer is a large corporation, you'll definitely need a lawyer. In many cases, you will end up in court. Then, you'll need an experienced lawyer who is an expert in patent law. Corporate attorneys will often try to come up with many arcane reasons that their product is somehow non-infringing even if it seems identical. Arguments can go very deep in these cases. Your lawyer will have to counter them all. Then, the court will be able to order a settlement if the offender still refuses to agree to a reasonable one.
In a few cases, you may choose to consult with a patent lawyer to have aspects of the law clarified for you. For example, you may wonder if your idea is sufficiently different from an existing item or process that you know about. An attorney can let you know if you're safe, or if your idea is still too close to something that is already patented. Since issues surrounding "prior art" can make or break a patent, it can be well worth a consultation fee to get guidance on this subject.
These are just some of the reasons you may want to involve a patent law firm when you're considering applying for one. Talk to a lawyer today about all of your patent concerns.