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Writing patents for others… disappointment

Some time back an acquaintance approached me about the patentability of their invention and I helped them brainstorm on what was patentable and what was not. After all, I do have a bit of experience on these things.

As I recall they were having trouble getting their head around working out if anything they were doing was patentable. They also said they didn’t have money and when I offered to help draft their patent my invitation was enthusiastically accepted. They really did have a cool idea.

As always, I offered my help for FREE.

However I don’t like being used as a transcriptionist or a technical drawing expert. When I write patents I like to make notes, record audio transcriptions and do hand drawings… its fast spontaneous and allows me to capture the essence of the idea at the time it is most fresh… the moment the idea hits me on how to handle the patent… in many cases the inventor I am helping is sitting across from me at a Cafe and the drawings and the outline of the patent are done on the spot… so a transcriptionist and drawing expert were used at $75 per hour working at my instruction.

This is what I did for the above mentioned person. Then I receive this email:

An acquaintance of mine spoke to a Patent Attorney and he said that you could get fined for filing a provisional patent and that US investors may find it very irregular that the patent was not written by an Attorney.

Well goodness gracious.Apparently no one but patent attorney’s are allowed to file patents. Garbage. Both the US and Australian patent offices sites show laymen how to file patents.  The IP Australia site says:

Patents can be very complex. Many people have been caught out by their lack of knowledge and experience in this area, or by their failure to adequately develop their IP protection strategy.

Many patent applications filed without the help of a patent attorney are not successful-or are abandoned by the applicant.

We strongly recommend you avoid problems by consulting a qualified patent professional before you apply. They can also carry out searches of existing inventions and draft your application.

Sure… its complex. Sure… get professional help if you need it. In fact I DID. For the first 6 or 7 patents I used a lawyer to draft my provisional… then I had a go myself. The first provisional I did was ripped to shreds by my attorney… the next one was better and then I realised that by around the ten count that all they were doing was clean up, some legalese and the claims writing… so now I file my own provisional patents and only get the lawyers to do the full application conversion and the writing of the CLAIMS… the most important and legal part of the patent…

As far as US investors are concerned… who would you have as the person to help capture the protectable essence of your invention? A guy who is behind a successful patent infringement win against Microsoft or a guy with a plaque. In the end it’s the work that matters. Is it a good patent? Does the patent fairly and accurately describe the invention? Then that’s all that matters.

No I am not against patent attorneys. I am, however, against abdication of the inventors role in writing the patent especially the provisional. The more an inventor can educate themselves on how patents work, how they should be written, how they protect the inventor, the more educated the better.

Sure you may not be a natural patent writer. The majority of provisional patents I wrote for Uniloc were given the once over by the lawyers but ended up with only minor edits when going for full application

It’s sad however that self serving alarmist comments by patent attorneys like the one above make light of the gift I gave in helping the inventor I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

The book I wrote about the fallacy of having to use a patent attorney looks at this issue closely. The problem is that patent attorneys reason for being is to provide legal advice but their motivation is their hourly rate which means there is a natural tendency to be alarmist and to complicate things to appear to add value, but after you see a few dozen patents and understand how they work, the opposite is true. Well written, concise and honest patent writing is better for everyone… its the basis of the original idea of patent law to protect inventors…

Things like this happen from time to time. Everyone knows what it’s like to help someone else out and they turn around after accepting your help boo-hoo it. Well all that means is that I now have time to help someone else.

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