Sunday, February 26, 2006

Low Quality Service Providers, Part II

Last month I wrote about "low cost providers". This month I talk about an even more insidious provider, "the high priced charlatans". I mentioned in the previous article that below market pricing was a pretty good way of identifying patent practitioners that as a general rule provide low quality patent applications and associated services. The high priced charlatan is a bit more difficult to identify and that is what makes them so insidious: they sell you on high quality and charge a price commiserate with that of a high quality provider.

Luckily, I only know of one of these type of practitioners, so they may not be all that common. On the other hand it behooves you to be aware and completely question an attorney or agent before hiring him or her.

One good way to check on any attorney or agent before you hire him is google him or her. Look at least a few pages of results. Is there any indication the practitioner has been sued or disciplined by the Patent Office or his/her state bar? If so, move on. OR if the infraction doesn't seem so bad, make a note to ask the attorney or agent about it during an initial consultation.

Check inventor education sites, such as www.inventored.com, to see if there is any negative information about the agent or attorney. There are so many attorneys that are reputable: why take a risk that has negative material written about him/her by a credible source?

When you meet with an attorney ask him/her very pointed questions. Most people have trouble repeatedly and consistently misleading others. If you continue to ask hard difficult questions of your patent attorney to be; most unscrupulous operators will break or at least show the strain. Those that are quality operators will answer the questions without hesitation or concern. After all, good patent practitioners understand you are potentially spending a significant amount of money on the patent process and that you owe it to yourself to investigate the expenditure thoroughly.

What sort of questions should you ask? I am not going to get into those here. If interested, visit our website and check out the FAQs in the Patent Section to get an idea. There is one question you should ask that I will discuss here. And it may surprise you or at least the correct nature of the answer should surprise you.

The question: What do you think of my invention?

The answer should not be too positive, too giddy, too enthusiastic. Those of us that have been around the block in this business know that most of our clients will never make it rich from their inventions and that it is nearly impossible to predict which inventions are winners and which are not. So for a patent practitioner to come off as though your particular invention is the greatest thing since sliced bread is disingenuous and often smacks as dishonesty.

And their is no right answer to the question. Some attorneys will honestly tell you they like the idea. Others will refrain from giving their opinion. The key to the response should indicate how difficult the inventing game is and how much work and energy is typically required from an inventor to make a success of their invention. They may not say ii in so many words but it should be clear from their demeanor.

One final way to check out patent attorneys: check out their affiliations. For instance, our firm is a member of the Troubleshooter Referral List. If we mess up with our clients we could find ourselves being exposed on a daily national radio show. Honestly that reality doesn't worry me. Why? Because we make treat our clients the way they deserved to be treated: honestly and forthrightly. We will tell you the way we see and we will not pull punches. We are your advocates and fiduciaries and because of that it is our duty to put our self interests second to your interests at least in so much as it relates to our representation of you.

But I digress, I don't mean to imply that my affiliation is the only one of merit. To the contrary, there are undoubtedly plenty of others: just do your homework and there is no reason why you cannot identify a quality patent attorney to draft and procure a patent to your invention.

Next up in PART III, I will write about invention promotion companies as I have done numerous times before. And if I can stop one inventor from giving their money to these predators, well, then the forthcoming entry will be a success.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

IP Tip of the Month

When you are registering a domain name for your business, spend a little extra and register as many related alternative domains as possible. For instance, if your preferred domain is "reallygreatdomain.com", you may want to also register "reallygreatdomains.com" as well. You also may want to lock up the .net, .org, .tv, .name and other variants as well. If you really want to play it safe register an derogatory domains that someone with a beef against your business might use against you, such as "reallygreatdomainsucks.com.

I know you are thinking: this can get really expensive. Well, not really. Right now, you can register any domain for $2.95 a year at www.ipowerweb.com. Register, 33 domains for less than $100 a year.

Now consider the $5,000-$15,000 you will have to pay us or other attorneys to perform an ICAN arbitration to secure the domain for you when your competitor puts up a web site selling products or services similar to yours and trades off of your domain recognition. $100 a year is cheap insurance.

You can thank me later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Doing Some Good


In this blog post I am doing something a bit different. I am not going to talk about law or business or our firm – I wanted to highlight a very special event that is starting tomorrow February 22 and will continue on until February 24 that has become special for me and my family. For those of you who are in Denver, you may have heard it when you are scanning the radio dial – which is how I stumbled across it a few years back and now tune in every year. The event I am speaking about is the annual 36 Hours for Kids Radiothon put on by Alice 105.9 Denver, which benefits Denver’s children’s hospital. For 36 hours (from 6 AM to 6PM mountain time from February 22 -24) the radio station stops its normal programming to host the radiothon. Over the past 4 years this radiothon has raised more than 4 million dollars and all of it goes directly to children’s hospital. If you tune in you will hear courageous and emotional stories from children and parents about how the hospital has helped them and their families. Sadly, sometimes these stories do not always have a happy ending. As a parent, it’s a hospital that I hope we never have to use, but provides me a lot of comfort knowing that we have one of the best hospitals for children in the country right here in Denver. If you have happy and healthy kids or even if you don’t have any children at, all I encourage you to tune in as it is certain to affect you and your outlook on life. We have donated every year for the past three years and find it very rewarding to know that we are helping children who unfortunately are going through things that no child should ever go through. For those of you in other parts of the country, you can still check it out by visiting Alice’s website and clicking on the Alice in E-land link on the right hand side of the page. You can also donate over the web.

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