Let me recommend ....
I know, it sounds almost absurd that I - a patent attorney at EP&C - am going to tell you how to go about finding a patent attorney that is right for you. But, please read on.
I can obviously highly recommend the patent attorneys at EP&C. However, as Chairman of the Netherlands Institute of Patent Attorneys I also promote the interests of non-EP&C patent attorneys. I truly feel that it is far more important for you to choose a professional who knows what he is talking about and is right for you, your company and your technology. Someone who gives you excellent advice and is going to write a patent for you that both of you can wholeheartedly support. Irrespective of where this person works.
So: how do I go about choosing my patent attorney? Here are my tips:
Tip 1: opt for someone who is certified
Patent advisors or patent experts. That should set alarm bells ringing.
Only people with the title of patent attorney are officially certified. You can find out who these people are by taking checking the register of their professional organisation The Netherlands Institute of Patent Attorneys.
These patent attorneys have demonstrated the required technical and legal knowledge. They have the necessary qualifications, keep their knowledge up to date and comply with the statutory obligation to observe secrecy. You are guaranteed excellent advice if you do business with one of these people.
By following this first tip, you can separate the wheat from the chaff. There are around 290 certified patent attorneys in the Netherlands for you to choose from. On to the next tip!
Tip 2: choose a patent attorney who understands your particular field of technology
A patent attorney not only has to meet a number of statutory requirements, he or she also has to be able to describe your invention flawlessly. In order to be able to this, it is important that the patent attorney understands your particular field of technology.
All patent attorneys have had some form of technical training, for example in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, biochemistry or some other technical discipline. However, this does not mean to say that every patent attorney is as familiar with your particular area of expertise as you are. You will always be the expert in your particular field.
When selecting a patent attorney you should therefore always ask him or her about his specialist fields. Alternatively, you could ask them what their specialisation was at university. That would certainly be useful to know.
However, the most important thing for you to do is to talk about your particular field of technology with the patent attorney you are considering engaging. You will then soon find out if they have any affinity with your innovation. Do they understand your story? Do they ask the right kind of questions? Do they contribute ideas or make suggestions?
You might even be able to improve your invention with your patent attorney's input. He or she might look at your invention from a slightly different perspective and, combined with your experience, this could lead to some surprising insights.
After you have followed up Tip 2, only those patent attorneys who understand your technology will be left. Depending on your particular area of expertise, you will be left with roughly 70 suitable candidates. What happens next?
Tip 3: choose a patent attorney you feel you connect with
You know what I mean. Some people seem to instantly get what you mean, while others take forever.
So, my final tip is that you should opt for someone you connect with. It is obvious, but still extremely important.
Only work with someone who is able to explain to you what choices you have to make, someone who is really willing to helps you along. Someone who tells you what to expect, how much budget you need to set aside. You will always have to put up with a certain amount of the jargon, but if in doubt: don't do it!
You only get one chance to arrange proper protection for your innovation and you have to get it right first time.
When choosing a patent attorney you are investing in a long-term relationship. It goes without saying that there is nothing to stop you from switching, but it is just like when you apply for a patent: it is best to get it right first time round.