Intellectual property law is a broad and complex legal area that is crucial for businesses to stay competitive and commercialize their products within the law. That’s why an IP lawyer has to be a subject-matter expert and possess certain qualifications in the field.
Even though IP protection is usually associated with huge enterprises matters, almost anyone at some point can face issues regarding their intellectual property rights:
- Corporations have to more carefully protect their brand from infringement and unfair competition;
- Startups may need to get a patent, so they can get profit by licensing it to the other organizations;
- Individuals in creative industries might want to protect their content on social media.
Before hiring an IP attorney, take some time and determine what exactly you need from a lawyer. Do you need to get a patent or to cope with intellectual property abuses? Is it enough to get a couple of consulting sessions or do you need to involve a lawyer in a long, tedious process for IP protection? These questions will help you identify what to look for in an attorney.
Then it’s time to conduct research. During your assessment, you need to consider the qualifications and skills that a decent attorney has to possess. Let’s discuss what to look for in an IP lawyer.
Expertise in Related Field
Undoubtedly, a chosen lawyer has to be an expert in this field of such a sensitive topic as IP protection. The first thing you need to pay attention to is if an attorney has successful cases for similar inventions and issues. It implies a higher probability that he or she can prepare and identify minor problems in documents, so an intellectual protection office will rule in favor of your company.
For example, when reviewing patent lawyers’ profiles, look into the number of applications he or she submitted and how many have been approved. These figures demonstrate if the attorney is diligent and how thoroughly patents were written. The research is particularly convenient to conduct in a marketplace with attorneys specializing in different areas of IP protection.
For most products and technological inventions IP attorneys have the appropriate background and technical knowledge to, for instance, draft a patent or pursue licensing issues related to IP rights.
However, for more specific inventions in narrower industries, you should consider whether an IP lawyer has equivalent technical background associated with the subject matter. For example, to be able to protect the rights of chemical-related inventions, an IP attorney has to have a chemistry degree or other relevant one. Likewise, an IT invention requires a lawyer with a computer science background.
A competent lawyer always takes extra time to build a relationship with a client. IP lawyers are no different. Engagement in the process and listening to the information related to your invention are crucial. The reason is that the lawyer will eventually be in charge of explaining the invention himself to protect it, so documents have to be understandable and detailed.
Look through reviews of the IP attorneys on your longlist. If there are negative reviews or complaints that a particular attorney doesn’t call back, ignores clients or is inattentive, most probably he or she will behave in the same way with you. Marketplaces like iPNOTE are useful in identifying responsible attorneys with the right attitude as you can choose them based on their rating and reviews.
Obviously, the cost of an IP attorney’s services is an important factor for making a decision. However, in the case of such a delicate matter, it shouldn’t be exclusively determinative.
The cheapest option can become the dearest, while you end up paying more in the long term. For instance, if the patent is denied due to the lack of experience of an attorney, you as an inventor have to start from scratch again, let alone waste time.
Overpaying is not a reasonable option as well, so make sure to explore available options and find out the average rates.
Conduct an Interview
Finally, after your research is completed you should have a list of prospective candidates, who you will interview. Observe their attitude, while listening to answers. Be especially careful if you notice that a lawyer:
- Doesn’t understand your issue due to the lack of relevant experience;
- Can’t pay full attention and make excuses (e.g. by saying he or she is busy);
- Is impolite or annoyed;
- Guarantees the desired outcome. 100% chances of winning are almost impossible in the world of IP protection.
Hiring an IP attorney without time-consuming research can be troublesome and ineffective. Therefore, we recommend following the tips mentioned above. It will increase the chances of success and you’ll most probably find a reliable and competent contractor for long-term cooperation.