It amazes me when I hear how much prospective clients pay for their Intellectual property legal work. Depending on what part of the country they live, I have heard of folks paying tens of thousands of dollars for a simple domestic patent application. I guess each locale has its own tolerance for what is considered value. This is especially true for certain corporate clients. I would imagine overhead costs contribute mostly to inflated prices for comparable legal work. However, you don’t have to overpay for your legal work.
Imagine going to a store and shopping for a particular item. If it is a high cost item – like a car – wouldn’t you shop around for the best price and best deal? Some will pay whatever the cost in order to buy local. I admire that in principle, but is that truly the best value? (I try to do this myself – shopping local, but sometimes cannot afford it.)
I have never been offended when a client asks me how much it costs for certain legal work. If my price is too high, then I don’t blame my client for moving on. However, I kind of view it like ” kissing on the first date”. We might as well get past this scary part early, so neither of us waste any more time than we should and allow each other to move on. If the prospective client doesn’t bring it up, I usually do. Some attorney even publish their fee schedules for certain work. That makes it even easier.
All registered patent attorneys and agents have to take the same federal bar tests for their licensing. It doesn’t come from the state bar association – it is a national standard test. If you are dealing with a licensed patent attorney or agent, they have been vetted. I can’t think of any registered patent attorney or agent I have ever met that is too stupid to competently practice IP law.
You can also research your attorney or agent by conducting a free search at the patent website. If you were searching for me, you would conduct an advanced search and type in “Lrep/Homburg”, and it would reveal almost every patent I worked on. This “resume” or “body of work” would be a good place to start your interview of the attorney or agent you are going to work with. After you check this out, make sure you find out how much the work will cost. Some charge hourly while some offer flat rate fees. If you sense hesitation when this question is asked, you might want to move down the list. Its kind of like going to a restaurant that doesn’t show prices on the menu. SCARY!
Good luck on your IP needs and for gosh sake, don’t be Goofy and overpay for your work. Three words – shop, shop, shop.