Patent attorneys, like all legal professionals, differentiate themselves by focusing on specific areas of practice within their field. A lot of what distinguishes one patent services firm from another is who they take on as clients and whether they offer to fight on behalf of them. By learning about the four types, you'll be able to make a more informed choice while hiring one.
A good legal practice can be built around simply helping folks file paperwork, especially if a firm develops a reputation being thorough at writing applications. This type of patent attorney can be helpful if you're just trying to get everything on the record, but they're probably not going to provide much support if you get into potential litigation. Many larger corporate law offices either have such an attorney on staff, or they have established a relationship with a firm that handles patents. This class of attorney often specializes in working with individuals, such as inventors, and small companies.
The Startup Friendly Practice
In regions where startup business is a major part of the economy, such as Silicon Valley, it's common for a patent attorney to build a practice almost solely on representing startups. They're typically comfortable with fast-paced negotiations, as a startup's intellectual property portfolio is often the biggest asset it has. If you're very early in the startup process, you may want to make a point of working with a firm that has a trademark attorney on its team. A number of bigger practices geared toward startups also have lawyers who are familiar with mergers and acquisitions.
In the world of patents, some organizations invest massive effort into getting money for their portfolios. Working with a lawyer who has a history of going on the offensive can be advantageous, especially if you have a business model built on collecting fees for your patents. If your enterprise is built, for example, around a licensing model, you'll want to forge a relationship with a patent attorney who has a history of successfully obtaining settlements and judgments in civil actions against violators.
Some lawyers specialize in fending off the attackers, and they are in high demand because a patent complaint can come seemingly out of the blue these days. Patent defense is a bit like injury law in the sense that an attorney's reputation for fighting often compels so-called "nuisance value" settlements. For more information, talk to companies like CHABOTLAW.COM.