Case Study: A Legal Entrepreneur Builds a Boutique Practice

Ying Chen found herself at a career crossroads. She had earned a Ph.D. in applied physics then later a law degree and went to work at a large, global law firm where she specialized in intellectual property (IP) matters. Two years into her tenure as partner, Chen realized she no longer was focusing on the job she enjoyed and had built a successful career on – preparing and prosecuting patent applications and counseling clients on issues relating to patent infringement and validity. Instead, she was kept busy training junior associates, managing day-to-day business operations or litigating.

As a scientist, she enjoyed being in the lab, rolling her sleeves up and doing the work – not supervising or delegating work to others. She realized the bureaucratic nature of a large firm and the expectation that partners perform patent litigation vs. prosecution didn’t meet her long-term professional goals or personal aspirations. Chen decided a change was in order and teamed up with Masao Yoshimura, a colleague who held similar views on client service, IP specialization and big firms. The two founded and opened Chen Yoshimura LLP in 2005. The firm has grown into a five-attorney, full-service intellectual property and business law boutique that handles all matters related to patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and unfair competition. The firm prides itself on providing clients the same level of expertise they would find at a big firm, but with hands-on senior-level involvement and superior client service at a fraction of the cost.

“Looking back, we were actually ahead of the curve in what’s become a more widespread phenomenon in the IP legal community – IP attorneys leaving large firms to set up regional, boutique law firms whose clients are often entrepreneurs, start-ups and emerging growth companies in the high technology and life sciences industries,” said Ying Chen, Ph.D. and Attorney at Law. “We have built a successful practice on providing high-quality, cost-effective, dedicated and responsive services to our clients, both local in California and across the Pacific Ocean.”

With offices in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, Chen Yoshimura attorneys are accomplished business and law practitioners. All are registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and all have advanced technical degrees and/or industry experience. For her part, in addition to working with larger institutional clients on patent prosecution, opinions and licensing negotiations, Chen spends a lot of time helping solo inventors and small companies with the drafting and filing of their patent applications, both in the U.S. and internationally.

A Fate Encounter Helps Chen Yoshimura LLP Enter the National Stage Quickly

“While at the large firm we had an entire department devoted to patent filing, and the resources and global network to accommodate PCT national stage entry. But when we opened our own firm, we didn’t have the administrative resources or bandwidth to devote to establishing new relationships at individual foreign firms or to pay for the expensive IP cost estimation tools that we had used in our previous life at the big firm. I realized quickly that I needed to find some solution to help me streamline the foreign patent filing process for me and my clients,” shared Chen.

As luck would have it, while in the process of her first national stage entry case, Chen received a piece of mail from inovia, a leading provider of foreign filing technology. is a global instruction platform that simplifies and streamlines PCT national phase entry, European patent validation and patent translations. With just a patent number and a click-of-the-mouse, interfaces with WIPO to automatically pull the number of claims, pages and words from an application in order to generate an accurate and detailed quote. Users can file through the inovia agent network or use their own agents. With inovia, only one invoice is generated vs. dealing with various accounting departments from independent firms in each country.

“It was kismet when I received the marketing piece from inovia,” recalls Chen. “The inovia platform provided exactly what I needed in terms of helping my clients quickly file in the countries of their choosing. Rather than having to spend months identifying partners, networking, and building relationships with firms worldwide, I could simply rely on the expertise of inovia‘s network of proven, reliable agents and file into multiple countries with a single instruction.”

In addition to the clear, administrative time savings and efficiencies the platform provided Chen Yoshimura LLP, the “1-click” quote feature offers businesses and solo inventors full transparency into the costs associated with foreign filing to execute a global patent strategy that’s within their budget.

“Managing costs is extremely important to small business owners and solo inventors,” shared Chen. “With the system, I’m able to provide my clients with counsel on what countries to enter and what the exact cost would be. I can provide them with a breakdown of the government, agent and translation costs for each country and within seconds modify the quote based on their needs – adding or subtracting countries as desired.”

Growth in Tandem

As an inovia customer for six years, Chen has seen the inovia technology offering expand and grow in parallel with her business. Countries supported by the platform have increased and the user-interface and features have become more robust and flexible.

“As an early user of, I recall having to manually enter in the number of pages, numbers, etc. Now this information is all automated. Once an account is established, the system knows your history and it’s very simple to navigate and manage,” Chen said. “Plus, the system generates one invoice, so users only need to pay once, making the administration and accounting involved with foreign patent filing less complicated and more streamlined.”

While Chen can’t put an exact number on the Return on Investment (ROI) the inovia platform has brought to her practice, she does know it’s significant.

“I couldn’t even begin to quantify the number of hours I’ve saved with inovia. The time savings has allowed me to redirect my efforts to providing highly responsive, quality legal services to my clients. I routinely recommend inovia to other patent attorneys at companies and law firms, big and small.”


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