What can a patent attorney do for me?

Inventors ask all the time “what can a patent attorney do for me?” This question is usually preceded or immediately followed with “can I file a patent application by myself?” Because these questions are related to one another, Denver patent attorney Mark Trenner answers both questions in this post.
Can you file your own patent application? Yes, you can file your own patent application. However, I don’t recommend inventors to file their own patent application. In fact, I strongly recommend that inventors DO NOT file their own patent application.
I have had too many inventors come to me after they have already filed their own patent application, who regret having done so. The patent application process is extremely complicated. Even after graduating law school and passing the patent bar exam, most patent attorneys spend years working under an experienced patent attorney before they are competent to prepare and file patent applications on their own.
So what can a patent attorney do for you? In addition to understanding what to say and what NOT to say in a patent application, a patent attorney can also help an inventor think through aspects of the invention that are important to include in a patent application, that the inventor may not have thought about on his or her own. For example, a patent attorney may ask the inventor how something works, or how something is connected. A patent attorney may also think of alternative ways of doing the same thing, that should be included in the patent application in order to avoid someone designing around the patent once it issues.
Most importantly, a patent attorney can help an inventor avoid mistakes – costly mistakes that often cannot be fixed after the patent application has been filed. If you file a patent application by yourself and make a mistake, the patent application may be invalid and the invention can even become public domain, where the inventor has absolutely no protection.
If you are thinking of filing your own patent application – stop – talk to a patent attorney first. If you already filed your own patent application, you should still contact a patent attorney as soon as possible to find out if any mistakes were made, and if so, whether the mistakes can be corrected or at least mediated.

Read Mark Trenner’s Post: Is My Invention Protected?

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