Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Numeric Criteria For Selecting Patent Attorneys

Patenting an idea often leads to uncertainty for those who have never applied for a patent.  Accordingly, many Entrepreneurs do not know what questions to use in selecting from among their candidate Patent Attorneys.  This article presents a trial (and non exclusive) list of such questions.  We welcome a conversation about them. 

First, how many non-spam un-answered emails that call for a response is the Attorney sitting on?  Anything over a residual amount is probably too much absent extenuating circumstances.

Secondly, how many unread non-spam emails is the Attorney sitting on?  Any number over a day or two’s backlog is probably too many.  IMHO, an unread email could reveal a crisis that, at a minimum, merits triage.

Thirdly, how many applications has the firm accidentally abandoned?  This answer probably ought to be near zero (as a percentage).  There are exceptions of course but more questions might be warranted.

Next, as a percentage of revenue, what fraction of the Attorney’s bills where challenged as being over-billed?  Naturally, billing disagreements will arise.  So a good follow up question might be what percentage of clients have challenged their bills?  Any percentage above the low-single digit range could bear further questioning.

Moreover, how much does the Attorney charge for routine reporting letters (those not requiring analysis of the situation)? Particularly in a flat-fee billing environment, being charged for these letters might be surprising.
Lastly, what is the ratio of Senior to Junior Attorneys?  Of course, firm structures vary widely.  But, where the ratio exceeds about 1:3 or about 1:4 the extent of supervision of the Junior Attorneys might bear further questioning.

In closing, answers to these questions will vary across a spectrum.  Moreover, these numeric criteria do not tell the whole story.  Many qualitative considerations come into play as we discussed at this article.  

We at the Villhard Patent Group would be happy to discuss your IP (Intellectual Property) issues with you.  For more information about us, please see  You can contact us at or call us at (512) 897-0399. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

An Open Letter To Congress: Re-Instate One-Year, On-Sale, Grace Period

Dear Member of Congress:

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to re-instate the one-year grace period for filing patent applications following an offer for sale of a product/service incorporating an otherwise patentable idea.

The transition of the U.S. to a first-to-file nation grabbed most of the headlines when the America Invents Act (AIA) came into full force on March 16, 2013.  However, a lesser-known provision might have far larger consequences than first-to-file. Most legal commentators seem to agree that the AIA eliminated the one-year grace period following an offer for sale. 

Those of us who speak before entrepreneur groups have watched as audience members become dismayed when they hear of the grace-period’s elimination.  After all, these entrepreneurs cannot wait to sell their innovative products.  Their investors want to see the associated revenue and, no doubt, the entrepreneurs’ families are hungry for the money too.

Moreover, our society desperately needs the jobs that these innovators create.  Four years into this anemic recovery, these entrepreneurs are leading the way.  Many got hit with layoffs during the Great Recession.  Yet, they dusted themselves off, came up with great ideas, and moved purposefully to market – employing themselves and others along the way.  They played by the rules and now this particular rule stands against them.

Many, in their zeal, did not know of the elimination of the grace period.  And, now, they have companies that have little or no chance of obtaining meaningful intellectual property protection.  This situation, of course, means that they can be ripped off and their companies will fail taking those jobs and their dreams with it.  

Accordingly, we are asking you to re-instate the grace period for on sale activities, make it retroactive to March 15, 2013, and do it now.

Thank You.

We at the Villhard Patent Group ask you to reproduce this letter and send it to your Representatives and Senators and to the President.  You can identify your Representative and Senators and obtain their mailing addresses here:  The President, of course, can be reached at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D.C.  20500.

Also, while we discourage spam as a rule, we’re willing to run the risk this time and would appreciate it if you could forward a link to this article to your fellow entrepreneurs. 

We at the Villhard Patent Group would be happy to discuss your intellectual property issues with you.  You can find more information about us at and you can contact us at (512) 897-0399 or at  We look forward to hearing from you.