13 Sep 2018
When choosing a patent attorney to prepare and file patent applications, some people assume you need to hire someone local. But patent attorneys are licensed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (under federal law) rather than state judicial bodies (under state law), so your patent attorney doesn’t have to reside in the same state as your business.
In short, geography shouldn’t be an important factor in choosing your patent counsel. The biggest tech companies and most sophisticated innovators often hire remote patent attorneys. Here are 4 reasons why you don’t need to hire a local patent attorney.
1. PATENT PROSECUTION IS FEDERALLY REGULATED
Patent prosecution is regulated under federal law, rather than state or county law — making it unnecessary to find an attorney who’s a member of your state bar.
In fact, patent attorneys and agents who are licensed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are authorized to represent clients anywhere in the world. After all, foreign companies frequently file U.S. patent applications, and will engage U.S.-based patent professionals to handle that work.
For example, Henry Patent Law Firm represents tech companies in several different states in the United States and internationally (we have clients in Canada, China, Korea and Australia!).
2. LEGAL FEES VARY BY GEOGRAPHY
Legal fees are influenced, in part, by the size of the firm as well as location. So smaller firms, and those located in less expensive cities, tend to offer lower legal fees, because those firms have a lower cost of doing business.
The statistics back this up. For one, according to Law360, overall rates at BigLaw firms have recently surged 7.5 percent — while small firms have increased their rates by just 2.3 percent.
For another, according to Law Technology Today’s 2017 Legal Trends Report, here’s how hourly rates differ across the country’s 10 largest metropolitan areas:
|City||Hourly rate||Change from NYC rate|
|New York City||$344|
At Henry Patent Law Firm, located in Dallas, our rates are about half what you’d pay in San Francisco, New York City, or Boston.
We’ve put together a FREE infographic to help you estimate the cost of filing with us. Download it now!
3. ALL THE MAJOR PLAYERS ARE HIRING NATIONALLY
To be sure, it doesn’t always pay to follow the crowd, especially in the tech world. But in this case, the biggest tech companies have implemented hiring practices that allow them to minimize costs.
In my experience, many of the biggest patent filers will often hire companies in the “flyover states” because they know that there are excellent patent lawyers there who can charge less.
Because of this, patent attorneys are used to working with remote clients, and good attorneys will have solid processes in place to facilitate effective communication.
4. YOU CAN STILL HOLD IN-PERSON MEETINGS
One common reason people give for wanting a local patent attorney is that they prefer to meet in person. For example, some people don’t want to send sensitive documents electronically or through the mail.
But when meeting face-to-face is important, many patent attorneys will travel to visit their clients.
That said, don’t worry about racking up unreasonable travel expenses — the bulk of the work involved in the patent application process can easily be completed remotely.
SO WHAT FACTORS SHOULD WE CONSIDER WHEN HIRING A PATENT ATTORNEY?
When it comes to patent law, your attorney’s geographic location isn’t nearly as important as his or her qualifications. You’ll want to consider:
- Does the attorney have significant patent prosecution experience?
- Does the attorney have the right technical background to understand your invention?
- What is the attorney’s work process like?
- What are the attorney’s billing rates?
We’ve put together a list of 22 questions you can ask while evaluating whether an attorney will be a good fit for your needs.
THE USPTO IS IN OUR BACKYARD
We’ve mentioned multiple times that location isn’t key — but sometimes an office’s location canprove advantageous in unexpected ways.
Henry Patent Law Firm is based in one of just five U.S. cities where the USPTO has offices. The U.S. patent office is just a few blocks from our office in downtown Dallas. This has proven incredibly convenient, and has provided great opportunities for us to engage USPTO officials face-to-face.
Looking to engage a qualified patent professional? We love hearing from like-minded tech innovators. Contact us now to find out how we can help!
Michael K. Henry, Ph.D.
Michael K. Henry, Ph.D., is a principal and the firm’s founding member. He specializes in creating comprehensive, growth-oriented IP strategies for early-stage tech companies.