I recently received the result of a calculation that I needed to check twice. After having been involved in the roll-out of a patent family for four years, I had a look at the costs of the project. Guess what? These turned out to be nearly one third lower than the original estimate we had given the client. It was for a sizeable amount, because it involved patent protection in multiple countries. How was this possible and what does this say about our estimate?
PCT - Patent Cooperation Treaty
Obtaining a patent is a time-consuming job. If you do this in multiple countries, you can multiply that time and those costs by a sizeable factor. Fortunately there is the Patent Cooperation Treaty, a collaboration between 152 countries, which makes it easier to get international patent protection.
In the case of this particular client, the patent family covered eight countries and Europe, so nine costly processes in total. This is because despite the PCT procedure we still have to deal with international agents who do the arrangements for each country. This is one of the reasons why a patent is an investment that only pays off at a later stage.
EP&C attaches a great deal of importance to transparency, which is why, if requested, we prepare a fair estimate of the costs when we start working together. Not just of the short term ones, but rather of the costs involved in the process as a whole. In this case, the estimate should perhaps have had a special offer sticker on it. How is it possible that the costs turned out to be so much lower?
At the beginning of the process we took a close look at the product and how we could protect it with a patent. That involved a lot of work, but if carried out correctly, the rest of the process proceeds much more smoothly. As a result of this work, the description and claims in the patent were put together so well that we obtained a positive evaluation in the PCT phase. This speeds up the process in the various countries.
We also brought the applications per country in line with country-specific requirements. This reduced the amount of communication with local authorities. Because we needed to take fewer office actions like this and agents needed to do less work, our costs were considerably lower than usual. All of this led to the financial gain in my surprising calculation.
Those calculations above all made me feel proud. Proud of the good patent we were able to process so quickly. But even prouder of the fact that this windfall for our client was the result of our solid research, proactive work and the overall integrity in this respect.
The more honest you are with a client about the potential long-term costs, the more those costs could turn out to be lower than expected. If you sweep future invoices under the carpet to make yourself look better in the short term, there is a much bigger chance that everything will turn out worse than expected in the long run.
Just as a good patent is an investment for our clients, honest communication is an investment for us.