23 March 2015

Four Insider Tips for Getting the Most from your Patent Attor...


By Virginia Nichols, Senior Associate at Saunders & Co

When it comes to advice about your Intellectual Property (IP), your best qualified advisor is a Registered Patent Attorney.  As with any external expert, you want to ensure you get the best value for money.  Here are some insider tips on how to get the most out of your Patent Attorney advisor. 

  1. Not just patents

Although we are called “Patent Attorneys”, don’t be pigeon-holed into only talking about patents.  Discuss your manufacturing processes, R&D programme, product design, branding and marketing, commercialisation and business development plans with your Patent Attorney.  You may have valuable IP assets you didn’t even realise you had, and your Patent Attorney can help you identify and protect these.  It isn’t “one-size-fits-all”, so make sure your advisor has all the facts. 

  1. Be proactive

Some types of IP must be protected before you can tell anyone about your fantastic new idea, or use it in your business.  Other types should be protected before you use them, particularly in export markets.  If you have a new plan, discuss it with your Patent Attorney at an early stage.  Putting protection in place ahead of time is much easier and cheaper than belatedly trying to salvage what we can after a premature rush to market. 

  1. Review regularly

IP protections (especially overseas) can take years to obtain – that can mean years of on-going legal expenses (most of which go to government departments in the form of maintenance fees, or overseas agents).  As the market develops, IP protections may no longer provide a good return on investment.  The sooner your Patent Attorney identifies this, the sooner resources can be shifted to more valuable projects. 

  1. Keep in touch

As your business grows and changes, so will your IP needs.  You should let your Patent Attorney know when you are developing new products, or looking to enter new markets, to make sure your IP protection continues to be relevant and appropriate.  The cost of a meeting or phone call to let your Patent Attorney know what you are doing is much smaller than the potential lost opportunity through not identifying and protecting important new IP. 


It is invariably cheaper to do things once and do them right, than try to fix a problem that could have been avoided, had it been identified earlier.  The best tip I can give for getting value for money out of your Patent Attorney is to talk to them.  The more information you give them, the better the advice you will get. 

Virginia is a Registered Patent Attorney and lawyer at Saunders & Co, where she specialises in Intellectual Property.