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I have an Invention ... Now What?
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JimIvey
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Re: patent lawyer search
« Reply #5 on: Jun 20th, 2006, 12:01am »
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on Jun 19th, 2006, 7:32pm, RMissimer wrote:
Further, most state laws would preclude an attorney from representing someone for a piece of the pie that is not roughly the same as his fees and the like.  So, I can not accept a car worth $30k in exchange for a simple will, it is against the ethics rules for me to do so.

This is an interesting point that I haven't seen raised in patents before.  But I think it can be easily ignored in the context of taking a piece of the proceeds of a patent in exchange for preparing the application.  I see IP venture companies buying up patent applications for little more (or little less) than it would cost a reasonably priced practitioner to write the application.  So, 100% to the attorney would not seem unreasonable in comparison to what the attorney would reasonably charge at an hourly rate.
 
Ah, but every inventor out there believes their invention is worth millions -- billions!  And, (no offense to the original poster to this topic, but we here it nearly every day), the invention will simply sell itself.  So, perhaps even 10% is unconscionable (obscenely unfair -- the kind of compensation attorneys can't take).  
 
The problem is that, on the open market today, it's extremely rare for any single patent to sell outright for a million dollars.  What that means is that, very smart people who evaluate odds and markets and IP value for a living, determine that the most a patent is worth -- in and of itself given all the risks and possible advantages -- is about a million dollars.  While I don't follow the market as closely as some, I'd be very surprised to see a patent application go for more than a quarter of that.  A sizeable percentage of that could still be not unreasonable given what some larger firms charge for writing ordinary patent applications.  So, it would be extremely difficult to show just about any percentage of proceeds from a patent in exchange for writing the application would be reasonable compensation.
 
Of course, from what I understand, some courts will stick their hands in there and give money back to the client if, despite all the odds which made recovery of any compensation at all unlikely, the total payout after the odds have been played out turns out to be an unusually large number.  Consider the California lottery as an example.  The odds of winning are somewhat less than being struck by lightning twice -- something like 83million to 1.  I think the jackpot tends to hover around half that number -- 40million or so.  So, anyone with reasonable math skills would say -- bad investment: expected return on your dollar is about 50 cents.  Simple probabilities.  However, when someone wins, it always seems like a good investment after the fact.  But it wasn't; the payout was not sufficiently large to justify the risk -- for anyone sort of into math and understanding probabilities.  
 
So, I hope courts take the level of risk into consideration when reviewing reasonableness of compensation and that courts are even just moderately okay with math.
 
The problem is that it's extremely difficult to wrap one's mind around events with extremely low probabilities.  Unfortunately, I think profiting largely and obscenely from an idea is one of those events.
 
Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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Bill Richards
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Re: patent lawyer search
« Reply #6 on: Jun 20th, 2006, 12:46am »
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I am aware of practitioners that take a stake in the technology in exchange for the patent pros work with seemingly no ethical problem.  In Ohio, in general, it's OK to have a stake if the client agrees after full disclosure.  Is it any different than the contingency fees to which PI litigators agree?  Again, in Ohio litigation, as long as the fee is reasonable, it's OK.
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William B. Richards, P.E.
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Re: patent lawyer search
« Reply #7 on: Jun 20th, 2006, 1:16am »
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regarding investors earlier in the thread...
 
if i have an idea (which i do, actually two, both  marketable ones IMO), and i have no money to pay for the fees and advice, do i go out to, say, california and find a group of investors and if they like my product(s) they can help process the patent and pay the fees and what not and once it becomes marketable, and money is made, they get their money back and then some? idk if this is similar with arranging a deal.  but exactly how does this work with investors? do i need to have the patent first and then approach them for further opportunities or can i go straight to them and they can get the patent for me and then continue with business?
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Isaac
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Re: patent lawyer search
« Reply #8 on: Jun 20th, 2006, 6:20am »
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on Jun 20th, 2006, 12:46am, Bill Richards wrote:
I am aware of practitioners that take a stake in the technology in exchange for the patent pros work with seemingly no ethical problem.  In Ohio, in general, it's OK to have a stake if the client agrees after full disclosure.  Is it any different than the contingency fees to which PI litigators agree?  Again, in Ohio litigation, as long as the fee is reasonable, it's OK.

 
Doing so is not unethical, but ethical issues do arise and IMO the issues are more pronounced than those associated with contingency fees.  It is more likely that the financial interests of the attorney and client may diverge when the business dealings between client and attorney are more intimate and continue over an indefinite period.   In some cases the attorney may be obligated to advise the client to seek legal counsel other than himself.
 
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JimIvey
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Re: patent lawyer search
« Reply #9 on: Jun 20th, 2006, 9:37am »
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Getting to sdahd83's most recent concern (getting investment in his idea), that's just not patent law.  My point is that, while most of us who've been around the block a few times has met investors and been around deals involving investors, we're probably not the best resource to use for finding investors.  With any luck, someone here can give you a lead toward finding such resources.
 
The closest thing I can offer is that I've met the VP and Director of Licensing of this place: http://scitechlicensing.com/  My understanding is that they don't handle patent issues and would prefer that the inventor/tech-owner take care of that.  In fact, that's probably why we were introduced to one another -- a potentially synergistic relationship.  In the same meeting, I met an investment banker from Meryll Lynch -- my naive assumption is that they'd be interested in investing in bigger companies, but he did mention the possibility of introducing angel investors.
 
The more I delve into this topic of "clever idea worth trillions but no seed money", the more I think there's a business model in providing assistance in the idea-to-profit transition.  Unfortunately, a lot of others came up with the same idea and most of them decided there was more money to be made in just pocketing money from the inventors.  I wonder if there would be money in a legitimate invention submission company.....
 
One that might be interesting would be to combine patent services with a patent hedge fund like Intellectual Ventures (I once stuck my foot in my mouth by mistakenly calling them inventech -- their domain name is intven.com and at a quick glance looks like inventech; at least "intven" doesn't roll off your tongue like inventech does).  You ever have one of those people that you run into every few years and you manage to take no more than about 5-10 seconds to shove your foot in your mouth really far every single time you see them?  That's me with this one attorney.  On the off chance he reads this, my sincerest apologies -- I really don't mean to do that.  
 
Regards.
 
Regards.
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