As providers of services on a time basis, patent attorneys and agents should know better than most (with the exception of their clients, of course!) that time is money.
So here it is: The Completely Obvious Guide to Minimizing Costs When Instructing a Patent Attorney
1. As far as possible, send everything at once
There are few things more annoying than getting piecemeal chunks of information from a client (if there IS something worse, it’s having to argue over invoices for your effort in asking for additional information).
2. When an attorney you have instructed asks you a question (or 10) or requests that you send a document, make sure you answer every point that is raised
Failing to deal with every point in a letter is time-consuming and frustrating for all concerned as additional correspondence whizzes back and forth filling in the gaps. And of course, “time-consuming = money consuming”.
When replying to correspondence (especially long correspondence relating to many issues), it’s a good idea to draft your reply and then read the initial correspondence carefully from start to finish. It’s remarkably easy to miss a question buried in a paragraph because you jumped over it to answer a question to which you know a really good answer!
3. Take note of deadlines
I never cease to be amazed at the number of patent firms that don’t get back to you when they should. Many attorneys add some form of urgency loading to discourage clients from instructing them unduly late; even if there is no explicit late charge, I suspect that more than the occasional attorney rounds up rather than down when estimating time on an urgent case.
4. Before asking a question, make sure you’ve read the correspondence to date
No-one minds if you ask a question for which the answer is buried twenty long letters ago – we’re all human. However, if you ask something that was dealt with in the previous letter, it’s tantamount to saying that you didn’t read the letter – and obviously that’s not going to look particularly professional.
Of course, all of these are simple ideas, but they all boil down to a little professional courtesy and respect. And of course, you might save your client a little bit of money and make the whole process just that little more enjoyable for yourself too.