Drafting and Filing Your Own Patent Application–I've Seen Nothing to Recommend it


Drafting and Filing Your Own Patent Application—I’ve Seen Nothing to Recommend It

Or, if you’re thinking of filing your own patent application, please take the time to read and consider the following:

Maybe it’s the economy, but I’ve had a spate of calls lately from prospective clients wanting me to review and/or prepare claims for an application prepared, at best, with the benefit of a “How To” book. While I’m usually receptive to new challenges, getting bogged down in a “homemade” patent application is typically more frustrating than rewarding.

I usually begin by advising these clients of my hourly rate and asking, “how much of my time do you want to buy?” About half the callers, will agree on a sum- certain fee, and I’ll do my best to constructively review their application. Invariably, I’m confronted with an application that’s lacking in clarity and with little hope of redemption. I objectively review the document and get back to the client with honest and frank comments. More often than not, the comments are received with appreciation and a quick, “but what do you think?”

That presents a problem. Is the client like the Tom Cruise character in A Few Good Men— unable to handle the truth? Do I use my clever line about the person who prepares and files his own patent application is the same person who drills his own teeth? Maybe, but generally I’ve developed a bit of a rapport with the client and I matter-of-factly advise him that while it is not an application that I would file, it seems to have all of its parts and could certainly be submitted for examination. I’m then typically asked what would I charge to put it in better form for filing. And, that presents another problem. I’m reminded of the plumber who’s called in to remedy a botched effort at a repair. If I attempt to rectify the flawed document, I’m faced with the prospect of beginning before the beginning, which would entail spending more time on the application and seeking more money than I would have had the client come to me in the first place.

Maybe it is the economy, but thus far I’ve not been retained to remediate any of the pro se prepared applications that I’ve reviewed lately, and I’m not disappointed. I typically don’t learn how those clients elect to proceed, but knowing the difficult prosecution road that lies ahead for them, I’m hoping they sense my lack of enthusiasm for the patentability of their invention (as described), become further discouraged by the filing fee and forgo the self-directed patenting experience entirely. My opinion is that nothing good comes of the pro se applicant and his work product, and I seriously doubt if that opinion will be challenged in the future. So, before you spend a lot of time writing that patent application yourself, please give me a call. Let’s talk about the process.

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