• December 2019
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Do I Need a Patent Attorney to Complete a U.S. Patent Search?

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When faced with a legal challenge, it can be tempting to represent yourself rather than hiring an attorney to handle your case for you. After all, attorneys provide notoriously expensive services and it is always nice to save some money when possible and appropriate. However, one often risks significant consequences by opting for self-representation. The reason why legal services are so expensive is that an attorney’s skill-set is highly specialized. Attempting to secure, maintain or enforce one’s legal rights, sue another for wrongdoing or otherwise engage with the broader legal system without the assistance of an experienced attorney is not an easy feat to accomplish successfully.

For example, if you are an individual inventor or you represent an innovative company and have recently created work that needs legal protection, the idea of preparing and submitting a patent application yourself may seem attractive. The concept of applying for patent protection seems relatively straightforward and as a result, involving an attorney can seem like an unnecessary investment. However, it is important to understand that the process of securing a patent, from conducting a patent search to compiling and analyzing necessary research and documentation, is notoriously complex. The United States Patent and Trademark Office strictly enforces every application-related requirement and approaches each patent application with a significant level of scrutiny. Attempting to complete this process without experienced assistance may very well lead to a rejection of your application.


Why Patent Application Approval Matters

When applying for certain legal benefits and protections, it may not matter much if an initial application is rejected and must be resubmitted. For example, if you think that you may one day travel abroad, you may decide to obtain a passport even if you do not have any immediate travel plans in mind. If your passport application is initially rejected and you need to file another due to incomplete answers or missing documentation, this rejection will not affect your life much. However, it is critically important to obtain application approval for a patent petition on the “first try.”

When USPTO examiners receive your patent application, they stamp that application with a filing date. That filing date will serve as the moment in time against which USPTO evaluators will judge any prior art. Similarly, if you are ever involved in infringement litigation, that filing date will serve as the moment in time against which a judge will evaluate claims of prior art. The earlier you file, the more favorable your filing date will be. But if your application is rejected and you ultimately have to file a new petition, your original filing date will be meaningless. Every day that passes between your original filing date and resubmission filing date will serve as an opportunity for prior art to stake a claim against your intellectual property.

As you can see, successfully obtaining approval of your original patent application is critically important. Therefore, it is generally a good idea to seek experienced legal guidance before filing. An attorney will be able to ensure that your application is as complete, accurate and well-supported as it needs to be in order to be approved.


The Process of Searching for Existing Patents

One of the most important steps your attorney will take when assisting you with your patent application is conducting a search of existing patents. This highly technical process will help to ensure that your work does not infringe upon any previously protected products, processes or designs. Although it is possible to conduct a patent search by yourself, it is a notoriously complex undertaking. In addition, if you miss even a single relevant patent filing in your search, your work may be rejected for being too similar. Allowing a patent attorney to help you with your search will ultimately allow you to tweak your work if necessary in order to avoid rejection on the grounds that it too closely mirrors another individual’s work.


Intellectual Property Guidance Is Available

Because it is so important to obtain the most favorable filing date possible, please do not hesitate to connect with LawTrades today. Even if your work is not quite ready to be submitted yet, we can begin advising you on how to construct your patent application completely and efficiently. And after learning about your work, we can begin searching for any existing patents that may influence the work you will ultimately submit to the USPTO. In addition, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have about our approach to representation.