Two Things Your Clients Will Not Want To Hear (And How To Avoid Saying Them)

August 7, 2017 David Bennett

If you want your clients to stick around, manage their expectations. While the advice is simple enough, the unpredictable nature of the patent process makes it hard to follow. From the outset of patent prosecution, your clients are going to want to know how much time and money it is going to take to obtain their patent. If you cannot answer with certainty, you may end up falling short of the expectations that you set for them. That, of course, means that you will have to tell them something they will not be happy to hear.

 “This is going to take longer than expected.”

 The average patent application spends between two and four years in prosecution. This can vary greatly depending on the type of patent application being filed, the art unit to which it is assigned, and, more significantly, the patent examiner assigned to the case. One way to ensure that you meet your clients’ expectations is to greatly overestimate the amount of time their patent application will be prosecuted. However, by taking this approach, you run the risk of sending your clients on a search for a more efficient patent attorney. A better alternative is to use the information available to make tailored, accurate predictions about the patent applications you handle. Thanks to patent data analysis and patent analysis software, patent practitioners now have a greater ability to interpret patent data than ever before. Where estimates were previously based on broad generalizations about patent applications, this is no longer the case. You can now utilize information specific to your assigned art unit and assigned patent examiner - such as the average amount of time similarly situated patent applications have spent in prosecution, the average number of office actions that they faced, and frequency with which an appeal was pursued - to provide a better estimate of timing.

 “We are going to be over-budget.”

 Perhaps more important than accurately predicting the duration of patent prosecution is accurately predicting the cost of patent prosecution. The cost of patent prosecution has been difficult to pin down because, without sufficient information, it is nearly impossible to predict the actions you will have to take to move your patent application through the patent process.  This inability to budget effectively can become very irritating to your clients - but if you are able to predict the actions you will take throughout prosecution and you know the costs associated with those actions, then you can develop your budget forecasts to keep smiles on your clients’ faces. For example, if you know that your assigned patent examiner typically requires three office actions before he will approve a patent application and that the average response to an office action costs $3,000, you know to account for at least $9,000 for office actions in your forecast. This method also applies to RCEs, appeals, and the time it takes for informal interviews. Combine an understanding of the costs associated with patent prosecution with patent analysis software, and your ability to predict costs and keep your clients happy increases tremendously.

LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® patent analysis tools can be used to set realistic expectations for your clients. PatentAdvisor™ gives patent practitioners the ability to use the data that pertains specifically to their patent applications to determine the time and money that will be needed throughout patent prosecution. Avoid saying the things your clients will not want to hear - exceed their expectations with PatentAdvisor.

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