When the USPTO issues a patent, the law firm responsible for that patent puts its name on the front page. This is a standard procedure. Just about every law firm lists itself on the patents it produces. However, almost no firm provides the names of the actual individual attorneys who worked on these patents. At Smith & Hopen, we diverge from this practice and take a different approach. In addition to listing the name of our firm, we also list the names of the individual attorneys who drafted and prosecuted the patent. Why? Three reasons: transparency, accountability, and recognition.
When you hire a law firm, the most important consideration should be the individual attorney working on your patent application. Are you working with an established partner or a first-year associate? Does the attorney believe in your goals and technology? Does she have the technical background needed to understand your technology? Is the attorney Board Certified?
In many cases, the law firm you hire does not provide sufficient transparency to answer these questions. For example, just because your point of contact is an experienced partner, does not mean that he personally will be drafting and prosecuting your patent application. Indeed, many law firms offload the actual patent prosecution work onto entry-level associates. Furthermore, many larger firms have a very high attorney turnover. This means that over the course of prosecution, your patent may become a hodge-podge, with contributions from multiple inexperienced practitioners. Frequently, when we take over a patent portfolio from another firm, we encounter patent applications drafted and prosecuted by associates who clearly do not understand the core technology. And it shows.
At Smith & Hopen, we encourage our attorneys to build long-term relationships with our clients. In our experience, the time an attorney invests into learning your technology and business is invaluable. For this reason, we do our outmost to ensure attorney continuity across a patent portfolio. This consideration is important both for institutional clients–such as, large universities–and private entities. To provide our clients with the highest level of transparency, we always put the name of the actual individual patent attorney who drafted and prosecuted the patent application on the front page. Accordingly, there is no ghost-writing or outsourcing–only transparency. You can always find the attorney’s name prominently displayed on the face of the patent.
When an attorney knows that her name will forever appear on the face of the patent, that attorney becomes personally invested in the quality of the patent. From claim scope to drawings, patents that display individual attorney names tend to be a level above. Attorneys can switch jobs and clients, but when their names are memorialized on the patents they produce, their personal reputation is on the line. Accordingly, by listing the attorney’s name on the patent, Smith & Hopen inseparably intertwines that attorney’s professional reputation and integrity with the patent. And, as we all know, in the professional world, reputation is everything.
“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffet.
We are very exclusive. At Smith & Hopen, we only hire experienced, highly-motivated, and intelligent attorneys. They invest their legal acumen, education, and talent to ensure that their clients’ patents are litigation-grade. Moreover, they take pride in their work. Therefore, it is only fair that every individual attorney–not just the firm–receives recognition for their stellar work on the face of the patent. It is an incredible feeling to walk into a client’s lobby and see your name prominently displayed on patent plaques.