The Smokejumper Method

Picture your next meeting with your patent attorney.   Is it an uncomfortable phone call where you are being charged by the minute?  Has he helped you find members of your production team?  Has he even met your production team?  Is he a partner in the growth of your business?

Part of the problem some developers have with their patent attorneys is that the attorney is not really focused on their applications.  A gigantic law firm is often only interested in patent applications as a stepping stone to employing their trial teams.  The actual patent prosecution is performed by inexperienced junior attorneys on tight schedules.  In the same vein, a budget firm can commit very limited efforts in exchange for low fees.

Part of my method is to spend time with the researchers, the designers and the engineers in their development environment, so that when I write about their invention, I get it, and they believe that I get it. I do not bill them for calling me, because I want them to have an open line of communication. I am not under pressure to churn something out quickly. The work is done when it is done right. This is what it is known in consultancy as the "smokejumper" or "concierge" method, and I believe it is how patents should be done.

I believe that a patent attorney should do more than simply write patents on the technology presented to him.  He should know enough about your process to see it in ways you have not, to influence your approach based on what is patentable, and to isolate overlooked innovations within your research.  He should be able to think strategically and predict the behavior of competitors.

Achieving success for a client is not measured, in my view, by the number of patent applications written, but in whether those patents have propelled the client to attracting funding, negotiating a license, hiring a great team or building a successful product.