Would you go on the Internet, or look in the phone book, search for a Family Doctor, call them or email them and then ask him or her, “Can you recommend a good Family Doctor to me?” Here’s another question for you, would you search on the Internet for a Family Doctor in another state, call them and ask them if they can recommend a good doctor to you in your geographical area? Do you honestly think that a doctor, who is, let’s say, in NY would really know and could recommend a Family Doctor to you in say, Seattle, Washington? More often than I’d like to admit, we get emails through our contact form only to be asked these exact questions. I decided to Twitter about this, because I thought it was hilarious, but then it was suggested to me that I write a blog post on this very topic. Hmmm, why didn’t I think of that?!?
OK, humor aside, Many inventors come to us on a regular basis seeking guidance on what they should do if they want to protect their inventions. Intellectual Property can be quite overwhelming for those with little or no experience or exposure to this topic. Take it from me, I am a sales and marketing gal, not a patent attorney. In fact, 7 and a half years ago if you had asked me to define “Intellectual property” I’d have said, “The Mansion on the beach in Southern California I’m thinking I’d love to own?” OK maybe not, but I really did not have a clue about what it was or how the process worked back then. So I begrudge no one who is confused on the topic itself. Intellectual Property is daunting to those with little or no experience in the field and now that I’ve worked with The IPWatchdog for many years, I understand many of the ins and outs of Intellectual property, particularly in regard to patents. My days are often spent helping inventors understand the terminology and processes associated with seeking Intellectual Property Protection. But some of the questions we get clearly show that those asking the questions have not actually read anything on the site at all.
When you visit our home page, the first thing you see is a this:
A rather dapper picture of Gene Quinn, I might add (I am not biased at all, honest) along with bold and colorful words that not only tell the reader “I am a patent attorney and I can help you with patents…” but also have hyperlinks to pages which explain, in more depth, what Gene Quinn does as a patent attorney. The reason I chose to write about this, is that there are so many inventors that by their own admission “Don’t know the first thing about Patents,” who legitimately need some guidance to help them understand things. But it is also clearly evident that some folks do not even read our very first paragraph, let alone delve into the many pages of FREE information available on our site, before clicking on the “Contact Us” link and sending us an email. Not to mention there are those who send us multiple identical emails through out the day which suggests that they are going from site to site, copying and pasting their questions into as many websites as they can find on the Internet.
A while back Gene wrote an article a while back titled Rules for Working With a Patent Attorney where he stated:
Every patent attorney gets these kinds of e-mails and telephone calls every day, sometimes multiple times in the same day. If I were to call everyone back who wanted to talk to me I would have no time to do any work and would go bankrupt.
Gene received many comments for his article and in fact was even contradicted at times for the things he had to say. One such comment was posted as follows:
…I whole-heartedly disagree with Mr. Quinn’s characterization of patent attorneys. I regularly and willingly speak, for free, by telephone and in no-charge initial consultations, and have engaged countless clients, both corporate and individual, and have continued to represent such clients for years, with growing porfolios. I welcome prospective client questioning, and, in fact, encourage them.”
We too welcome questions and want very much to help inventors and other members of the business community. That’s why we offer so much FREE information on our site. We are happy to answer legitimate questions and concerns, but the truth is, we do not sell a product, what we sell is our time, through the services we provide and so we cannot justify taking the time necessary to answer questions that are easily accessible and with minimal searching are very clearly answered on our website. I often take the time to speak with folks and answer all of their questions about our process, what to expect, what we can do and other preliminary matters only for them never to call us back. We are a soft sell company. We do not try to sell our services to everyone that calls or emails us. On the contrary, I often tell folks to research us and other businesses like us before they choose to work with us or anyone else for that matter.
Although we are not a traditional “Law Firm,” so many people seem to forget that Gene is still a licensed Patent Attorney. How many law firms can you call and speak directly to the attorney? Not many. I call many other attorney’s offices as part of my job and not often am I put directly in touch with that attorney. Although I am not an attorney myself, I have learned many of the ins and outs of Intellectual Property and can answer many questions, at least those that don’t require the provision of legal advice. But I never pretend to know more than I do and have no trouble saying “I’ll find out and get back to you.” But it’s amazing how many people get upset at the fact that I will not put them directly in touch with Gene. Should I be getting a complex here? But seriously, this is because Gene is a professional and his time is extremely valuable to those who do pay for our services, not to mention all of the readers of our blog. Gene spends many hours a day researching the information he provides for FREE on our blog, and the rest of his time is spent actually doing legal work for clients or teaching students how to pass the patent bar exam.
We do understand that the decision who to hire as your attorney is a very personal one, and you should make the selection carefully. At the same time it is at least a little insulting for individuals to ask us to recommend a patent attorney for them, as if they have already ruled out our services out of hand. It also is a big turn-off when it is clear that those who call or e-mail want us to read to them what we have written on our website. In my experience the tell-tale sign of someone who is serious and who will become a client is one who has read through our writings and come to ask specific questions about how we can help, or those who already believe Gene is the expert they want to hire to represent them.
Making money on your invention is likely the end goal for everyone, no surprise there, right? Those who are more likely to succeed are those who treat inventing and innovation as a business, and that requires doing homework on many levels in advance. We are happy to hear from you and happy to help you if we can, but the best way to get our help or the help of other serious, reputable attorneys and professionals is to understand as much as you can and that is why we provide so much FREE and easily accessible information. So like I always tell our readers, and my son for that matter, ALWAYS DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
So thank you for listening to me vent.
Join the Discussion
2 comments so far.
Gene QuinnMarch 6, 2010 12:54 pm
Thanks for your comment. I have given some thought about this from time to time, and your comment has given me some more ideas. The trouble historically has been that so many folks just call around for information. I used to talk to whoever wanted to talk to me, and what I found was it turned into very little business. Perhaps that was then and this is now, to quote the Monkees.
What I have discovered, and Renee has rediscovered, is that there are some tell tale signs for those who present as potentially serious clients and those who present otherwise. This is not to suggest that those who present otherwise are not serious inventors, but perhaps not serious about obtaining services. Maybe that is due to a price point issue, or perhaps it is due to just calling around to get as much information as one can get in hopes that they might do it themselves.
Let me give this some thought though. Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading IPWatchdog.com.
Ron HiltonMarch 6, 2010 12:20 pm
As a recent subscriber to IPWatchDog and an independent patent agent, I really appreciate the service that Gene provides here. I have to admit though that I was not initially aware that Gene was a practicing patent attorney, until I noticed him posting to the NAPP mailing list. I think maybe the problem is that people primarily come to this site for the articles, and don’t typically see what they’re not looking for, even if it is in plain sight. As a professional myself who bills for my time, I can fully appreciate the value of Gene’s time. On the other hand, as an inventor and entrepreneur as well, I’ve learned that the way to success in business is by leveraging other people’s money and time to create value that pays dividends for everyone involved 24×7, not just the hours that you’re personally on the clock. You have built a tremendous asset with this website. I suspect that many small independent patent attorneys and agents would give their right arm to have the problem of too many potential clients banging on their door. Have you ever thought of providing a referral service? I don’t know if there would be a way to set it up at arm’s length from Gene’s own patent practice, to avoid running afoul of USPTO ethics rules in that regard. Just a thought.