by YourPatentGuy on October 20, 2012

The patent world continues to change, and so does YourPatentGuy. As you use the web and search for the best fit for you with respect to patent services, you can find many different options. Of course everyone is looking for the services that best match their needs, and those needs vary. I have had several conversations with my clients about what a 21st Century patent firm looks like. We are more than a decade into this makeover and I'm not sure that much has changed in the delivery of services.

To be certain, the law is changing. There is increasing pushback against the solo inventor and protection/enforcement of their inventions. We just passed the one-year anniversary of the current US experiment in revision to our patent laws. Not all changes are in place but I have not found that the changes help the solo/startup very much. The jury is still out.

One concern relates to the ever-increasing costs of patent protection. Changes are needed to meet varied needs of the inventor group, while being current and effective. The non-lawyer/agent is slower to adapt and respond to these changes. Having a lawyer involved when legal rights are implicated is still valuable, but increases costs.

That said, there has been some developing changes to the delivery of legal services. There is an increase in legal accessibility brought about by sites such as LegalZoom, where the user is provided with self-serve options. In my opinion, these types of services are not particularly suited to most patent matters. And further, when legal rights are involved, having a lawyer involved is better for protecting those rights.

2009 appears to have marked a rise in the delivery of legal services through Virtual Law Offices. The rise of these offices has included a rise in the idea of unbundled legal services. Think of this as “al la carte” in that a lawyer provides limited, focussed service through online portals. This is one way that costs are further controlled, which means that clients could be offered some of the savings by reduced rates or lower overall costs.

Not all clients want al la carte service, and not all matters are appropriate for this type of treatment. That means that some clients do, and some matters are appropriate. So that is what is behind the current exploration of YourPatentGuy

Investigating this topic has been fascinating. The legal world is no longer the staid “profession” of years ago, nor is it a true capitalistic business of the caveat emptor type. Various bar associations struggle with keeping up with technology, delivery of legal services, and client needs.

The virtual law office has challenges in defining itself and meeting the sometimes apparently conflicting demands of these Bar Associations and various State ethics laws. Fortunately the patent practice is a Federal matter and is easier in some respects. But it is far from simple.

I believe it will be easier for YourPatentGuy as I hope to provide this as an adjunct to my regular practice, not a replacement.

Stay tuned for developments and if you are so inclined, give me your thoughts about your vision of a 21st Century PatentGuy!

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