What is involved in the patent preparation process?
If it’s a new client that is not familiar with the patent prosecution process, well, we’ll typically explain that to them. Then if it’s an off the street, invent in the garage type inventor, what I’ll typically do is, if I talk to him on the phone, I’ll say, “Well, the first thing you should do, go to Google Patents and try and find your invention by doing keyword searching. Then give me a call in a week.”
If they do that, and they call me back and say, “Nope, couldn’t find it,” then I would typically suggest we do some supplemental searching to try and determine if it is patentable. Typically at that stage, I will give them my gut feeling as to whether this has any chance of being viable, both in the sense of getting patent protection and also perhaps as a commercial product.
We’ll typically spend a few more hours doing the patent search, and we’ll talk to them and give them a written opinion as to the patentability of it. If we find any patents out there during our searching that might be a problem for them if they do a product on this, we’ll let them know.
Typically we’re not searching and doing a clearance opinion for these inventors, because that typically involves many hours of searching, but we do do a significant search of a few hours where we try and find their invention disclosed in existing patents, or also otherwise just on the Internet for example.
If we don’t find it, then we try and assess what are the inventive aspects, and we can typically give them an estimate for what it will cost, and then we proceed.
Now, if it’s a sophisticated client, for example, 95% of the work that we do is for ongoing corporate clients, we usually have a process in place in which we will receive an invention disclosure, we’ll review it, and then we’ll call the inventor or inventors, and we’ll just discuss all aspects with them.
Oftentimes we’ll do a little bit of searching. Sometimes they’ve done some searching themselves, but it’s whatever the routine is for that particular client. Then we’ll undertake to get the patent application filed and prepared and provided to the inventors for their review within whatever period is appropriate, typically with a month or two.