Better Patent Referrals: Tips for Non-Specialists

When seeking information about patents, clients often ask their business lawyers or their personal friends for referrals. However, just knowing a patent lawyer personally or by reputation should not be the reason that a referral to a lawyer is made—even if the person making the referral has a law degree. Patents can be critical for business success and, for some clients, specialized expertise is required to ensure the right result is obtained.

In this regard, many clients need not just a patent, but a patent that creates business value for their company. Notably, this objective requires a keen business insight, something that is not in the wheelhouse of many otherwise competent patent practitioners. There are questions that a non-specialist can ask before she makes a referral to help her clients and friends meet their patent goals.

As an IP Strategist, my client intake process is focused on collecting information about how patents are expected to relevant to the potential client’s business goals. For me, it’s important for clients to be able to articulate why they have determined that patent protection is intended to create value for their companies. I will not take on a new client unless we can agree that a patent will create value for both her business and mine. Unfortunately, today most patent lawyers focus on the mere generation of a patent itself, with no consideration of any business relevance of the task itself. If the lawyer to whom the referral is being made is not versed in why her patent efforts are relevant to the client’s business goals, the client should consider seeking another referral.

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