9 Tips On What To Wear To A Patent Law Job Interview

You’ve secured your first interview as a patent agent or patent attorney. The one most pressing question on your mind now, is what should you wear?

One thing that you should be told at law school is that, typically, the bigger the law firm is, the more conservative the attire should be. East coast patent law firms are among the most conservative. Companies that serve tech or creative clients tend to have a dress code that is slightly more relaxed. When in doubt, dress formally as what you wear is as important as the questions you answer when being interviewed for a position.

1.  What To Wear To An Interview Where You Know The Normal Dress Is Casual Dress

Many law firms and other major firms have started the company culture practice of casual dress at the office. Even if a patent law office that has granted you an interview allows casual dress in the workplace, business attire is still appropriate for an interview—with the dress code being a suit jacket and shoes.

Dressing in business attire, when interviewing with a firm that allows casual dress, may make a noticeable difference in comparison to another equally qualified candidate.

2. How You Want To Appear To A Potential Employer

A potential employer knows nothing about an applicant other than what is presented in the resume. First impressions are critical. You want the interviewer to see you in business mode, not laid back casual.

The interviewer needs to see you as a firm employee that will represent the best clients in meetings or court in an appropriate fashion. When you appear, in business attire, you show an interviewer that you know how to dress appropriately, when visiting clients or appearing in court. Dress the way you want the interviewer to see you.

3. Advice From An Attorney Who Does Employee Interviews

Harrison Barnes is the Managing Director of the Harrison Barnes PLC law firm. He lives in Malibu, CA where casual office attire is the norm. After being with a law firm for some time, and involved in recruitment, he categorizes people being interviewed as those dressed casually and those who are not. The majority of the time, those dressed casually did not get the job.

When associates would discuss a candidate’s potential hiring, the way they dressed was seldom part of the conversation. Instead, comments such as not seeming to take the job seriously were mentioned. Mr. Barnes believes the real reason those candidates are not hired is the way they dressed. His philosophy is appearance is important in an interview or a job.

4. Impressions Made With The Choice Of Attire

To act the part, one must look the part. Presentation affects how people relate to you. Construction workers change attire when purchasing a Rolls Royce. Poorly dressed people are probably not in a bank to ask for a big loan. A lawyer who walks into a courtroom poorly dressed will likely not be taken seriously.

All one has to do is think about the people working in previously held jobs to realize the best dressed were at the top of the food chain. Put yourself in the place of a client. Would you rather be represented by a well-dressed attorney or one dressed in a cheap, ill-fitting suit?

5. What Is Meant By Being Well-Dressed?

Potential employers and clients want the person representing them to reflect professionalism and esteem. It takes a lot of thought and effort to dress exquisitely. Therefore, shop diligently for clothes that best suit you. Pay attention to details such as the creases that appear in pants and the dry cleaners you use.

Clothes should be appropriately tailored. Purchase good quality shoes. They should be polished and the heels should not be worn down. There should be no scratches on a belt. Pantyhose should have no runs. Your slip should not show. Dress requirement lists for professionally dressed people can be quite lengthy.

6. Business Attire Is More Than The Clothes You Wear

Maybe the most important asset of a well-dressed individual is the self-confidence they exude. These individuals believe they are worth dressing the part. If you do not believe you look good, neither will anyone else. There are many things you cannot change when you go for an interview.

Examples include the law school you attended, who your parents are, where you were last employed, or whether you were fired from a job. Changing the way you dress is the easiest thing to change about yourself.

The way you present yourself is something you can control. You stand a better chance of getting hired over someone who graduated from an ivy league school with straight A’s if you look better than he or she does when you show up for the interview. Does it make sense? No, but that’s just how it is.

7. Dressing Specifically For A Patent Law Job Interview

Dressing in appropriate fashion may be more important for a patent law job interview than most any other type of profession. Mastering details is an essential skill needed by patent attorneys and patent agents alike. Let the attention to detail begin with the way you dress.

The time spent to look and dress flawlessly may be better than any book you could read or self-help seminar you could attend that advises about interviewing. Look professional by dressing in a conservative and well thought out manner. Dressing the part helps put your best foot forward with a potential employer.

8. Suggestions For Women

The appropriate attire for women has changed a great deal since the clothes considered to be suitable for women working in a law firm 20 or so years ago. At that time, the clothing more or less mirrored what male counterparts wore. The wardrobe consisted of a starched white shirt, a bow tie, and suit.

While changes have come about, attire for the legal industry is more conservative than the majority of other sectors. You do not want to make an impression because of the trendy leopard pumps or neon nail polish that you wore. A dark colored skirt suit, a light colored blouse, minimal jewelry, pantyhose, and pumps are a safe bet.

9. How To Plan For An Interview

The tailoring of a suit may be more important than the suit. Tailoring and dry cleaning should be at least a week before the interview in case something has to be redone. Plan what you will wear to an interview three or four days in advance. You do not want to discover the outfit you planned to wear is at the dry cleaners. Try the outfit on to make sure it is in perfect condition.

Your appearance should not detract from your presentation or resume. You want the interviewer to focus on what you say, not what you are wearing. Dress on the conservative side when interviewing with a big patent law firm. The goal is to reflect a candidate that is confident, hard-working, and intelligent.

9 Tips For Paying Off Student Loans Fast

9 Tips For Paying Off Student Loans FastCollege loans are the most significant obstacle that prevents millennials from investing. In 2016, the average student debt was over $37,000. That figure is an increase of a little of 6% in 2015. Financial planners and investment managers offer these tips for paying off student loans fast.

1. Consider The Loans As You Would A Mortgage

If possible, make more substantial payments that will reduce the principal faster. Look at the amortization schedule of the loan. A double payment saves the interest listed for the next month. Add up the interest of every other month for a rough idea of how much you will save. The actual amount will be more because each payment reduces the principal.

Therefore, more of the next payment goes toward the principal that was scheduled. By doing this instead of basing it on minimum payments via income-based repayments, the loan will be paid off in less than half the time. Another strategy that reduces the principal and the time it takes to pay off a loan is sending in half a payment every two weeks.

Some of the interest is reduced by paying two weeks early and you make 26 payments a year instead of 24. A ten-year loan is paid off in less than nine years. A student debt paid off generates other benefits. You have eliminated a debt and can now use that money for investment, buying a home, saving for retirement, or building a college fund for your children.

2. Make A Plan That Creates A Budget Designed To Reduce College Debt

The most effective method of reducing the deficit is to:

  • Plan ahead—student loan payments can be like a mortgage
  • Make sacrifices
  • Delay instant gratification
  • Focus on financial goals

Have a repayment plan goal in mind that includes what must be paid each month to reach it. The budget will likely involve cutting back on unnecessary expenses and possibly even making extra money to make extra payments. Any windfalls such as bonuses or a budget item that costs less than budgeted should be applied to the loan. Paying extra always results in less interest and a shorter pay off time.

Take stock of loan debt and formulate a plan. You must explicitly understand your student loan debt to devise a plan to pay it down. Access the loan service’s website to determine the total principal remaining and the interest rate of any loans. List all debt and add to find out how much is owed and to whom.

After landing a job after college, do not blow your money on a condo and a car. Immediately begin repaying student loans. Throw extra income toward debt reduction. A new salary may seem like a windfall and a means of improving your lifestyle.

3. Establish A Fund To Pay Off College Loans

Having money automatically deposited into a savings account is an efficient way to accumulate cash for college loan repayment. Money that you might have to spend on dining out or clothes is set aside to address the debt. The savings account should be separate from the savings or checking account that you might use for other things besides the student loan.

4. Pay Off Smallest Loans First

If you have more than one loan, make any extra payments you can afford on loans with the lowest balance. Paying off a loan early yields a feeling of success and serves as a motivator to continue tackling debt. Loans of an equal amount but different interest rates should be addressed in the order of highest interest rate.

5. Find A Part-Time Job While In College

This strategy generates money to help offset college loans. A student who can earn $1,000 each month, makes $12,000 per year that can replace money that needs to be borrowed.

6. After College, Be Willing To Work 50 To 65 Hours Per Week Instead Of A Traditional 40-Hour Week

Freelancing or working a part-time job in addition to a regular job brings extra income that can be used toward paying off student loans. Think about the money as additional debt funds not to be used for anything else.

7. Avoid Common Traps

Instant gratification is a compelling barrier to paying loans off faster. Many people find maintaining financial discipline to be a problematic hurdle. People who succeed are those who live within their means. Living as you did in college for a few more years will put you on the road to financial freedom sooner.

Having a plan usually, results in paying off debt faster than imagined. Get the basic shelter needed while you are in debt.You need something safe, warm, and clean. Sharing an apartment with someone or living with parents until you are financially stable will make money that is required for rent available to go toward your loans.

8. Avoid Consolidation Of Loans

Consolidating loans can simplify repayment to one monthly payment at one rate of interest. Juggling loan payments is a thing of the past. The choice to combine loans limits repayment strategies, such as paying off high-interest loans first or keeping federal loans in forbearance while aggressively paying private loans.

When you consolidate loans, there is little loan manipulation available. Some public student loans qualify for loan forgiveness. Those who are eligible and are working for a qualifying public service employer may eliminate established eligibility for loan forgiveness by consolidating.

9. Seek Help From A Reputable Adviser If You Have Large Loans Or A Complicated Loan History

Debt-relief agencies approach people who are heavily in debt with a one-size-fits-all approach that consolidates multiple loans and places them in an income-contingent repayment program. The agencies charge for their service. If you need help budgeting, seek advice from a credit union or financial adviser.

They give information based on a strategic borrowing and repayment plan that is geared to your circumstances. You want to get rid of student loan debt as soon as possible. It is unlikely that you will win the lottery. A plan is needed to prevent paying more interest than you have to. Implement some or all of the tips given here to pay back student loans faster and reduce the amount you owe.

Top 5 Job Interview Tips Articles on the Web

Top 5 Job Interview Tips Articles on the WebThe sweaty brow. The shaky palms. Everything about an in-person interview for a dream job screams nervousness, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you come prepared.

Knowing the basics of a job interview, especially for something as distinguished as patent law, will ease your nerves and allow you to sail right through the interview process. And, knowing a few key tips will take the experience from easy to impeccable.

In order to get the job interview and the job you want, take advantage of the scores of job interview tips on the Internet. To help you get started, you need to consider many areas for job interview preparation such as making eye contact with your potential employer, body language that shows your strengths and skills, a firm handshake, and making sure you communicate that you are the person they are looking for to fill that all-important position.

Below are some of the most insightful job interview articles for upcoming patent lawyers.

1) Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer | Harvard.edu

This article provides over 80 questions you should know the answer to as you’re likely to be asked one of these in a job interview. Included is the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” which is the question we often forget about but are nailed by every time we’re asked it. Form a response to most of these and you should be good to go.

Some other questions included:

  • Who is your hero/heroine?
  • Why did you choose law?
  • What constitutes success in your mind?
  • Is there any crime you would have trouble defending?
  • Why did you go to law school? Have your goals changed since then?
  • Why should we select you over all the other candidates?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 (or 10) years?
  • Who was your favorite professor in law school? Why?

2) Interviewing Tips (from Yale Law School) | Yale.edu

Yale is right up there with Harvard for being one of the best law schools in America. This article shows you just how great their breadth of knowledge is when it comes to interviewing skills.

Topics covered range from the types of interviews you may experience down to what you should wear and everything in between. With a name like Yale, you know the information they provide will be nothing less than high-quality and immensely beneficial.

3) How to Excel at Law Firm Interviews | Findlaw.com

Coming from a website called FindLaw.com, you can find some great legal interview tips in this article. It describes a hypothetical scenario most graduates of law school may experience, in which they are ecstatic to be offered law job interviews only to be crushed when they aren’t ultimately offered the job. The article then discusses how one may break the cycle and finally get hired.

  • Be prepared and read up on what the company offers. A good quote from this article is “…your level of preparation will determine how successful you are…” so don’t undermine your own success by being unprepared.
  • Know the importance of the screening interview. At the screening stage, you’re in the preliminary step the firm takes in ensuring the candidate is mature and able to handle the responsibilities of the job. Though not a definitive yes or no phase, making a good first impression is crucial to going forward in the interviewing process and ultimately getting the job. Don’t take the screening interview lightly.
  • Show enthusiasm no matter what. This one comes down to plain psychology. Even if you’re having a terrible day prior to the interview, you can’t let the interviewer know that. They’re looking for the spark that sets you apart from the other job candidates and someone who should be fine representing their company when talking to the press or higher-ups in other firms. Negativity or a lack of self-confidence during the interview process means a giant red “X” over the possibility of you getting that job.

4) Interview Tips from the Interviewers | Stanford.edu

This is advice for entry level attorneys, especially recent law grads who don’t have a lot of experience interviewing. The tips come from Washington D.C. law firm attorneys and recruiting managers, so you know these are solid nuggets of wisdom.

  • “The best attorneys are good researchers. You should research each attorney you are meeting. I will never forget a litigator who took the time to read a recent opinion on which I was listed as the attorney of record. I wanted him on my team.”
  • “Be polite and courteous to support staff such as secretaries, front desk receptionist, etc. They often have the ear of decision makers and will not hesitate to provide informal feedback to you, especially if you are not respectful.”
  • “If an interviewer initiates a debate on a legal issue, don’t get too passionate and heated about defending your position. Remain calm, composed, and focus on making logical sense.”
  • “The more you are relaxed and at ease, the more the interviewer will be relaxed and at ease.”

5) Preparing for the Most Common Types of Law Firm Interviewers | LUC.edu

Many of us agonize over how we will perform in interviews, but what about the interviewer? We often don’t think of the ways an interviewer will behave, but this article from the Loyola University Chicago describes just that.

In general, you can meet these types of interviewers, the questions they may ask, and the pros and cons for each interviewer. For example:

  • The trained interviewer. They have been trained in effective interviewing strategies and will ask questions to get to the heart of specific issues important to the firm. They will focus on asking behavioral questions, so to answer them effectively think about excellent experiences in previous jobs or school activities, challenges you faced, mistakes you made and how you corrected them, and times you’ve worked overtime, among other things. The good thing about this interviewer is that, if you prepare sufficiently, you can really shine because of the expected questions. However, if you don’t prepare thoroughly enough you can feel like you’ve been put on the spot.
  • The aggressive interviewer. This person will take on an adversarial tone with the candidate just to see how they respond. With this type of interviewer, it’s always best to remain calm and professional, taking it as a lesson in maturity. However, if you’re caught off-guard by their intensity it may be hard to recover your shaken confidence.

There you have it, some of the best articles from the highest-ranked law bodies in the US. Take the advice contained within these interviews to heart and we’re hoping you’ll land your dream patent agent or patent attorney job in no time.


Top 5 LinkedIn Tips Articles on the Web

Top 5 LinkedIn Tips Articles on the WebYou’re working on passing the patent bar exam now, but did you know there’s a lot you can do help help you find your first job even before you pass it? Networking takes time, so getting started now is the best move for your future.

The Internet has an infinite amount of resources to help you network and find a job through search engines and business-to-business social networks, but none are better than LinkedIn.

From viewing job postings to improving connections by allowing potential employers to see your profile with a well-written professional headline and drop-down menu with all your information, LinkedIn is a wonderful site for ensuring potential employees stay up-to-date with your skills, gain recommendations and endorsements, and make a name for yourself.

However, because there are so many users, it’s hard to stand out among the crowd. And with so much competition, how can you possibly attract the eye of a legal firm so that they want to hire you? To educate yourself on how you can best increase visibility and land your perfect legal job, we’ve gathered some of the top LinkedIn articles on the web.

1) How to Use LinkedIn for Your Legal Job Search | MomentumLegal.com

This article gives you the quick and dirty tips on how to make your LinkedIn profile shine and get more vital connections. Among other things, it suggests you do the following:

  • Build your profile much more fully and representative of you than what is offered on a resume. Allow your personality to shine through.
  • Think like a hiring manager for the job you want using keywords they would search for in your profile. For example, if you specialize in ERISA law and want to get a job in that field, be sure to use “ERISA law” as much as possible.
  • Sell yourself as much as possible, building an enticing personal brand for potential employers.
  • Join groups related to your field of interest to help you network and find jobs.
  • Endorse workers or employers that you know (either current or former) so they may, in turn, endorse you. Good words mean good impressions on those who view your profile.

2) 13 Ways You Can Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Get Your Dream Job | MarieClaire.co.uk

Despite this magazine typically being more for pop culture, this LinkedIn article provides some pretty impressive tips on how to get ahead on LinkedIn. Some advice includes:

  • Don’t use buzzwords.
  • Hand pick the right skills to make searching for you much easier.
  • Do a little detective work on your employer and tailor your profile to them.

3) Ten Things Every Job Seeker Should be Doing on LinkedIn | Forbes.com

Forbes has always forged the way when it comes to helping you find jobs, and it’s truly represented in their articles. There’s a plethora of useful LinkedIn help guides to choose from, and this one’s no exception. For example, here’s a helpful quote included in this article:

“I hear from battalions of job-seekers who are under the mistaken impression that simply creating a LinkedIn profile will get them a great job. That’s false! LinkedIn is like a Swiss army knife. It’s an incredible tool, but it doesn’t do the work by itself.”

Some other great tips in this article include:

  • Show how your brain works. Use the blogging platform offered on LinkedIn to get rid of the cliche job descriptions like, “professional-minded worker” in favor of a richer description of you.
  • Don’t leave your profile without a photo. It’s unprofessional and tells your future employer that you are careless about what people think about you.

4) The Complete Guide to LinkedIn for Lawyers and Law Job Seekers | EJLegal.co.uk

This article covers all the bases you’ll need to hit to land the job that’s right for you. The article comes from EJ Legal, a specialist legal recruitment agency, so you know that the information gathered is highly crafted and just right for the goals you want to achieve in your career. Within it, you’ll find useful tips such as:

  • Creating a customized URL. It’s that extra step that shows potential employers you’ll go the extra step to look professional. It also makes it easier to find you than by just using the jumbled mess of characters you’ll typically get with a regular LinkedIn URL.
  • Taking advantage of saved searches. If you find an employer you truly like, save their job posting from the mass of others you’re sure to receive. By finding it easily in your saved searches, you can give yourself time to cater your profile to those job postings.
  • Using LinkedIn plugins for your preferred email clients or browsers. You can import contacts and make networking much easier.

5) Fourteen LinkedIn Tips for 2014 | AmericanBar.org

Though outdated by three years, this article offers very good advice that still holds true to this day. It’s not so much tip oriented like the previous articles, but it gives valuable questions to ask yourself (in the typical lawyer way) to put you in the proper mindset of creating a great LinkedIn profile. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • “What jobs are you hiring LinkedIn to do?” We all know that LinkedIn is great for finding a job, but what about the other purposes the service offers? LinkedIn can offer you potential new clients expanding your network to include more people. LinkedIn works for you and, just like a well-rounded employee, use its many faculties in your own career.
  • Bring LinkedIn into the real world. Though LinkedIn is an Internet resource, it doesn’t just have to stay online. It can complement the work you are already doing in the real world. If you’re meeting someone for lunch, you can take a quick look at their online profile to know what they look like. If you’re traveling, you can see which new people will be near you so you can connect with them. The possibilities of using LinkedIn are endless and can improve your life immensely.
  • Make connection plans. While the typical advice is “connect as much as possible!” it’s a laborious task to take on since there are so many people to connect with. By giving yourself a plan of action, it can make networking much less daunting and more meaningful.

Those were some of the best LinkedIn articles we found for job searching lawyers. With this knowledge now in your arsenal, you can make one incredibly good looking LinkedIn profile sure to attract scores of employers.


Top 4 Legal Resume Tips Articles on the Web

Top 4 Legal Resume Tips Articles on the WebYou are a job seeker in the legal field. You’ve found a reputable patent law job that is hiring and you need to make the best cover letter and resume imaginable to get the job interview. However, good resumes can be a pain to write and very cumbersome to inexperienced resume writers. But it’s the most important asset you can write to help you get your next job.

The Internet is inundated with generic sample resume help tips, so finding functional resumes and skills-based resumes with effective legal resume formats that will actually help you is tough.

To help you create a good resume that works, here are some top-notch articles for making your resume stand out among the rest. After all, if you want to look professional, you need to get your foot in the door with a professional resume.

1) Resumes (from Harvard Law School) | Harvard.edu

What better place to find legal resume help than from the most prestigious law school in America. Not only does this article provide wonderful advice for those creating a legal resume, but it provides a “before” and “after” example of a bland resume to a more organized and effective one. Some of the advice includes:

  • Get a grip on the things you need to organize before you start writing. List all the things you’ve done since high school. Once you have the list, ask yourself a few questions to get a basis of what was most important to edifying your skills or interests in your career. Use the most transformative experiences on your resume.
  • You should aim for a one-page resume so make some strategic omissions for the sake of keeping the length to a minimum. Some exceptions apply to this rule of a one-page resume, but not many. Don’t start adding to your work history by including an endless list of bullet points featuring part-time jobs stacking shelves or other jobs not relevant to the position you want.
  • Follow-up. It’s a good idea to contact your employer and ask if they got your resume along with thanking them for their time. Just be sure to stay in the realm of persistence and not aggression or over-exuberance.

2) 10 Resume Tips from a Legal Recruiter | AbovetheLaw.com

Get the information on how to win over a recruiter straight from the recruiter. The author of this article is Abby Gordon, a former corporate associate with a company focused on international capital markets transactions. She knows her stuff and she imparts the reader with great tips on what makes a lawyer’s resume stand out, like:

  • Making the most important stuff jump off the page since most legal recruiters won’t have time to read every word on your resume.
  • Making sure you can talk intelligently about every single thing on your resume. Don’t be blindsided in an interview because you forgot the details of a legal issue you worked on years before. We all want to have a sparkling resume, but it’s pointless if you can’t talk about everything on there. Refresh yourself on the things you did or learned or else remove it from your resume.
  • Using the squint test. Tape your resume to a wall, stand ten feet away, and squint. Is it too dense with blocks of black text? Too empty? Though you’ll still need to cover all your bases, make sure the aesthetic value of your resume doesn’t suffer for its content.

3) Resume Advice and Samples (from Yale Law School) | Yale.edu

Yale is another great law school providing valuable resume advice. This article elaborates on how to construct your resume on paper so it makes the most sense. At the bottom of the page, you can see examples of stellar resumes, cover letters and thank you letters as well as frequently asked questions concerning resumes. Tips in this article include to:

  • Be sure your resume is as efficient as possible. It should be accurate, error-free, easy to read, and visually pleasing. Use Times New Roman font size 11 to fit as much as possible without making it too small. Since someone will read your resume for 30 seconds at most, you have to make it as easy to scan as possible.
  • Organize it as thus: Heading, degrees, scholastic activities, experience, and any additional sections you choose to include.

4) 10 Tips on Writing Resumes for Legal Professions | RobertHalf.com

This article is just one of the helpful things Robert Half Legal can offer you. The company is a provider of skilled legal professionals with major North American and global markets. It assists firms in matching them with potential employees as well as helping individuals in their job search.

Robert Half Legal provides free videos, articles, podcasts, lists of legal jobs and their positions, and even a salary guide for those unsure of what they should expect in the legal field.

This resume article provides some helpful tips for building your resume:

  • Use action verbs. Passive voice is not only an English no-no but a resume one at that. A vague or passive tone will mark you as a candidate lacking confidence and thus will make you unfavorable. It’s a simple thing that most people don’t think about, but must be avoided at all costs.
  • Include other skills, if relevant. You wrote an entire paper about your legal prowess, but what about the other things that make you human? Employers don’t want to hire robots, so listing some of the other things you know or can do will make you a more well-rounded candidate in their eyes.
  • Decide how to list your publications. Have you been published? Great! If so include anything you’ve got. But if you’re bibliography takes multiple pages, create a separate document and add, “list of published works available upon request.” It doesn’t overwhelm whoever reviews your resume and it makes you seem incredibly professional and grandiose.

These articles will help you get started in the resume building process. Whether it’s your first resume or your hundredth, you’re sure to find some helpful tips from Harvard, Yale, and these two law firms. Organize it efficiently and with your best experiences, make it the proper length and without any errors, and you should go far.

We hope that with this knowledge on how to build the best resume, you can market yourself so that every law firm finds you irresistible. A great resume opens doors and we want you to be prepared enough to walk through any door you choose.

Do You Understand the Business of Patents?

 Understand the Business(Why Claims Drafting Strategy Requires More Than Just Legal Knowledge)

As patent attorneys or patent agents, a part of your job is to generate a prosecution strategy that is favorable to your client. Strategy comes in many different forms; for instance, different types of claims protect different aspects of an invention: method of using, method of making, apparatus, system, computer-readable medium. So it is important for you to know what is important to your client. What are they trying to protect? Who are the likely infringers? How can they enforce the patent? All of the aforementioned questions should be discussed with your client.  However, all too often, patent practitioners get so caught up in the legal aspects of patent preparation & prosecution that they fail to give proper considerations to the business considerations of their client.

Patent preparation is not a one-size fits all profession.  Inherently, each new patent application that you draft should be new and novel from any others and should probably encompass a different strategy. The size of your client should also determine your advice.  Is the client a start-up looking to protect the technology that is essential to their core business, or are they a large corporation where the focus is to increase their patent portfolio numbers?  In the latter situation, quantity over quality may make sense, but in the former situation, the start-up will definitely need a quality patent to help establish their market position.

So how do you determine quality?  Well, there are several factors that go into assessing patent quality, but one of the most obvious factors is claim breadth, since claims are the most important part of the application, relatively speaking. I like to say that everything is patentable to a certain degree, meaning that if you narrow the claims considerably, then you will probably receive a patent. However, a lot of inventors fail to realize that not all patents are created equal, and just because you have a patent, doesn’t mean that you have something that is worth the paper it’s written on.  The question should be asked, is the patent marketable? Obviously, broad diverse claims are what everyone is looking for, but broad diverse claims generally conflict with prior art, thereby necessitating claim amendments to further refine the invention and narrow the claim scope.

Conversely, the more you narrow the claims, the less potential for someone to infringe.  But why do you want someone to infringe?  Well, if someone has to infringe your client’s patent to get into the market, then your client can generate additional revenue in licensing or they can create a barrier for others to enter into the market and assure that they are the sole provider of that technology.  Consequently, patentability is inversely proportional to marketability.  The more you narrow the claims to circumvent prior art, the less of a chance there is that someone will actually infringe the patent.  Remember, inventors don’t need a patent to practice an idea; they need a patent to prevent others from making, using, or selling their idea.

Therefore, a patent practitioner has to understand the balance between patentability and marketability and allow that to drive his/her prosecution decisions.  Ultimately, he/she will have to narrow the claim scope, which is not necessarily a bad thing because it can make the patent stronger by delineating it from prior art.  However, I’ve seen patents that were given a first action allowance, which can generally mean that the patent practitioner threw everything but the kitchen sink into the claims, inevitably narrowing the claim scope beyond any potential prior art.  So yes, the inventor received a patent, but it wasn’t worth anything.  The claims were so narrow that no one would ever infringe the patent, so the patent was essentially worthless.

Generally speaking, your claims should be just broad enough to overlap the prior art, understanding that you will have to invariably limit the claim scope during prosecution.  Once again, this should be a strategic decision.  Patent practitioners should try to make meaningful amendments that a potential infringer would actually infringe.  For instance, if you’re drafting a patent application for a chair and you place in the claim that the chair is a red chair, you should ask yourself, “is a red chair marketable”. If the market is dictating that it likes blue chairs, then a red chair may never be infringed, unless you’re making a bet that at some point in time red chairs will be in and blue chairs will be out.  So, unless that bet comes true, a claim limitation comprising a red chair may not be a good one. Obviously, these are discussions that need to be had with the inventor during prosecution, but all too often these types of conversations do not happen.  Especially taking into consideration that the patent process is at least 2-3 years long and what an inventor wants to protect today may not be the same by the time the application is actually being prosecuted.

Referring to our example above, maybe the application was filed with claims geared towards a red chair, but after a year of selling and marketing the product the inventor realizes that blue chairs are what everyone wants.  However, unless the inventor communicates this change in strategy to his/her patent practitioner, then the patent practitioner will continue to draft the claims towards the red chair instead of taking into account the new market strategy of the inventor.  Now obviously the inventor could possibly go back and claim the blue chair in a continuation application, but the question of whether the inventor will even want to file a continuation application, or have the money to do so, is a yet again a strategy based question.  If it is a small inventor stretched for financial resources, then they may not have the ability to file a continuation application to carve out additional protection, so they will need to make the initial application count the most.  However, if the inventor is looking at increasing patent numbers as a part of their patent portfolio strategy, then they may want to file continuation applications on a blue chair, a green chair, a yellow chair, etc; obviously assuming that there is support for these alternate embodiments within the original specification.  In effectively advocating for your client, the aforementioned strategic decisions are just the tip of the iceberg, which is why the best patent practitioners also understand the business of patents.

Braxton Davis is the founder of the Patent Institute of Training offering online, in-depth patent drafting and patent prosecution courses. Claim a discount on their courses by mentioning Patent Education Series when you enroll.

Thane Andrew of The Patent Illustrator Talks Patent Drafting

patent-drawing-350The following is an interview with Thane Andrew, founder and owner of The Patent Illustrator LLC. The Patent Illustrator provides patent drawings and designs for patent applications.

Even if you’re not interested in starting a career as a patent drafter, Thane’s interview has valuable information on patent drawings which is relevant to virtually everyone in the field of patent law.

Let’s get into the interview!

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