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. 

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