There’s no question. You know you need to get a patent, trademark, or copyright for your latest work. But what most people don’t know can indeed hurt them. For example, pursuing a relationship with an attorney that’s not an IP lawyer. So you do your research and you’ve found a handful of attorneys that you’re considering. Now comes the next question: should I use a general practice with an IP attorney on staff or go through a specialty IP law firm? A lawyer is a lawyer, right? Not so fast. There are benefits to hiring a boutique IP firm that you might not have considered.
Intellectual property is considered a specialized facet of practicing law as a whole. It has its own separate bar exam for those pursuing it as a career, but sitting for it will need specialized training if they want to pass. This includes schooling in engineering, sciences, math, or technology. Even with extra studying in these areas, this bar exam has an extremely low passage rate (42% in 2014, compared to 67% passage of the general bar exam the same year), making those that do pass the few and far between elite IP lawyers.
Your kid needs braces, and you’ve got choices. You can go to the Walmart down the road that has an orthodontist clinic in the store or you can go to the practice a few blocks over with three orthodontists working together. Which do you choose? Chances are, you take your young one to the practice with the group of orthodontists. It just makes sense. They do braces all day, every day and that’s it. The newest doctor has a question about how to treat a patient? The more experienced doctors can step in to show them the ropes (and make sure your kid gets to keep his teeth).
Just like those three orthodontists practicing together, IP lawyers in a boutique tend to be more intimately familiar with the nuances of USPTO’s expectations. The immersive IP environment makes them more comfortable with their work than IP lawyers in general practice firms that sit down the hall from family and criminal lawyers. While IP lawyers working at a general practice have the same qualifications, they don’t have the supportive network around them to tap into for those tough cases, making IP boutiques the clear choice for your needs.
There are two main differences when using IP boutiques. The first is the personal handling of a client’s work and personal responsibility. With fewer attorneys practicing within a boutique IP law firm, your case is more likely to be handled by a senior, more experienced attorney than if it’s handled in a large, general practice. The second differentiator among IP boutiques is its billing practices, which are typically more cognizant of budgets. Whether you only need a small facet of IP law or you’re looking to cover the gamut, your IP attorney can work for you and keep you within budget as much as possible, an easier feat than the same scenario at more rigid general practice firms.
This choice you make to protect your IP is an important one. You can’t risk being too late to file and getting your patent pulled from beneath you. Filing quickly and accurately is the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen. Not only does a boutique IP lawyer know their way around the specific laws that pertain to you and your invention, but they also save you money because of this knowledge and the resources available to them. With a partnership that looks this good, the choice is clear. There’s no reason to second guess which attorney you’ll need in your corner.