Could you use a little help protecting your invention? If so, an attorney skilled in patent law is your best bet.
As you can imagine, conveying your invention to someone who knows nothing about it will be difficult. Therefore, it is best if you are in direct contact with your patent attorney. You can meet in person and show the patent attorney any prototypes or drawings you may have to help illustrate your invention. As you can probably guess, the process will go more smoothly if you work with a patent attorney near you. Although it can be done, a long distance relationship will only strain the process.
Probably the best way to select a patent attorney in your city is through word of mouth. To help find referrals (and to associate with others who have interests similar to yours), you may want to join a local inventors club. You can also search through the USPTO’s list of registered patent attorneys or even just use their database to check your potential patent attorney’s credentials.
When you are seeking out a suitable patent attorney, you need to ask about their experience and background. Ask them what degrees they hold, the number of years they’ve spent writing and prosecuting patents, and the number of patents granted. Get references from previous clients and call them to ask about their experience with the patent attorney.
When selecting a patent attorney, it’s also important to find someone who specializes in the field your invention is related to. Patent attorneys are not equal in all areas. For starters, what is their degree(s) in? This is very important. Some patent attorneys will have a degree in engineering. Other patent attorneys will be skilled in the field of biology, others physics and yet others, computer science. You don’t want to take your newly invented cell line (yes you can patent such things) to a patent attorney with a background in electrical engineering. You would want a patent attorney with a background in biology to help you with this type of invention.
If you have a basic invention, going with a patent attorney with a general mechanical engineering background will probably save you some money. Specialized professionals usually charge more.
You want their background and your invention type to match as closely as possible. Writing patent applications is a bit of an art. Obviously, a patent attorney will come in handy to help you through the legalese, but there is also a great deal of knowledge and specific technical detail that must go along with it. This is why patent attorneys must have technical backgrounds.