Lawyers, Legal Help and Legal Forms For Inventors
If you have an invention idea that you want to turn into a marketable product and sell the product, there are many legal issues involved. Reading up on and learning some of the basics on intellectual property law and contract law will serve you well. We strongly advise you to read the articles we have on our site here at InventorSpot.com and to read some books on the invention process so that you can get oriented with some of the basic foundational concepts and legal issues that commonly arise when dealing with properly protecting, developing and licensing new products. (Here are some of the inventor books we recommend.)
Finding an attorney that has experience dealing with all the various aspects of the invention process will be invaluable to you. Many inventors are afraid of spending money on attorneys but a good attorney (like a good accountant) can save you from making costly mistakes.
If you are interested in getting help for your invention idea, it will be important to make sure that your rights to your idea are protected. Make sure that you enter into an appropriate confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement with anyone you are discussing your invention with. (You can see samples of some confidentiality agreements below. to help you get started)
Understanding the patent process and taking the necessary steps for patenting your invention if it makes sense will also be important.
Here are some resources to help get you started:
Finding A Lawyer To Help With Your Invention Idea
If you are looking for a good lawyer to help you, two of the most important considerations will be what type of lawyer you need and how much you can afford.
How Much Does A Good Attorney Cost?
Excellent attorneys are expensive. It is not unusual for expert attorneys or attorneys in big cities to cost $500 to $1500 per hour. Yup, that is right, per hour! But luckily, those attorneys are usually experts in their field and not likely someone you need when you are first starting the invention process.
Some good lawyers are not that expensive and worth every penny you spend on them. Depending on what type of attorney you are looking for (a business generalist or a subject matter expert) and where you are located or looking for legal advice in (bigger cities will tend to be more expensive and have higher rates), you should expect to spend about $200 to $500 for a good lawyer who can help you with basic business and contract issues. If you are looking for a patent attorney, you are likely looking at higher rates.
How To Find A Good Attorney For You
Unless you are very lucky, you won't find a good attorney without spending several hours hunting one down.
Finding a good lawyer is very much like dating. You should looks for someone that you have good chemistry with and also someone that has most of the qualities you are looking for. The first lawyer you meet may not be a good fit for you. So if you don't feel good about someone after learning more about them and meeting them, just keep looking. Lawyering is a service and what type of service you get will vary greatly depending on the type of attorney you hire.
The most common and effective way to find a good attorney is to ask around to people you trust and ask them for a referral. When asking around, try to avoid asking random people that are not likely to be using the type of lawyer you are looking to hire. Instead, focus on asking the most successful business people you know for referrals and recommendations for a good attorney that specializes in helping small companies.
Once you get a referral to an attorney, you should do a search for them online on the web and see if they specialize in the area of law you are looking for help on. If they are not, that's still a good referral for you. Instead of looking at the recommended attorneys simply as candidates, also consider these referrals as experts in your area who can recommend the perfect lawyer for you. Just go ahead and contact them and ask them for a few recommendations for a good attorney they know specializing in business and contract law, with an expertise in intellectual property and licensing.
Once you get a list of recommendations, go and do some web research and if you are happy with them, make an appointment to meet your candidates and interview them. It is best if you meet and interview a few attorneys, so that you can get a good sense of the differences among them and can intelligently select the one that best fits your needs and someone who has a style of lawyering that you comfortable with.
Another way to find a good lawyer is to simply search for one online. Don't just do a quick Google search for lawyers. Instead, focus on doing searches on legal databases that specialize in providing information on lawyers. Here are some websites where you can search for attorneys that specialize in the type of law you are looking for.
Intellectual Property Law Server - has a helpful forum where you can ask legal questions
What Should You Be Looking For In Your Lawyer
What type of lawyer you are looking for will depend on what you need. Typically, you will want a smart and experienced lawyer, so make sure they graduated from a decent law school and have more than 5 years of experience practicing law.
For inventors, you will likely want a lawyer experienced in representing small businesses. Ideally, you want an attorney that has many years of experience negotiating licensing deals and has familiarity advising clients on intellectual property matters including on patent law issues. If you are working on bring the product to market yourself, having an attorney who has worked with clients that have produced products and worked with manufacturers and distributors etc. will be ideal.
When reviewing the credentials of your candidate attorney, look carefully over what they feature as their areas of expertise on their website. Don't hesitate to ask them about their experience in dealing with specific matters that you are likely to need counsel on. If the attorney you are working with has never worked on a similar issue before, they may make mistakes so make sure that at a minimum, they are very good at handling and have years of experience negotiating basic commercial contracts.