Applying for a patent is an investment – in yourself, your business, and your invention. Which patent attorney you work with is critical. For the amount of time and money that goes into a patent application, you want to hire a patent with knowledge and skills that correspond to your needs.
If you are in the market to hire a patent attorney, you may want to review a prospective attorney’s patent work to date, and not merely rely on the bio on their website. Being one of the few non-patent attorneys in the firm, I decided to see how hard it would be to look up which patent attorney or law firm is responsible for a patent filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
How Hard Can It Be
I practice trademark law, so I’ve spent my fair share of time on the USPTO website, but limited to the trademark side. The last time I did a search for a patent was probably in 2011 when I was still in law school. I suspect I have comparable experience fumbling around the patent side of the USPTO as any Joe Average person who’s tried to teach themselves about the patent process.
On the trademark side of the USPTO website, there’s a trademark database where it’s relatively easy to do a search for the attorney who filed a trademark using the Structured search option. The record for each trademark application also includes information about who is the attorney of record for the application as well as who is the owner of the mark.
The patent side of the USPTO website did not have an obvious database for doing patent searches by attorney or firm, but a few clicks in took me to the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) page where there is an option to do a “Search by Full Text and Images.”
Searching by Firm or Attorney
This option opened a search page that can be tailored based on fifty-five different fields, including “attorney or agent,” each with its own search code. (The code for attorney or agent is “lrep.”) Using the sample the USPTO provided as a guide, I put lrep/(Venjuris) into the query box to see how many patents my firm had filed since changing its name from Venable Campillo Logan and Meaney to Venjuris in 2015. The database provided a list of 126 issued patents, each with the abstract, claims, and description for each application that is publicly available.
It appeared the best way to search for a specific attorney on this database was to put lrep/([FIRST NAME] AND [LAST NAME]) into the query box – assuming the attorney you’re researching doesn’t have a super common name, like Jennifer Smith. But there’s a catch with doing a search for an individual: when the patent attorney pays with issue fee, they tell the USPTO how to list the “Agent, Attorney, or Firm” that worked on the patent. Some patent attorneys only list their firm name, so may not find an attorney’s work if you search for them by their name.
Overall, it took me about 10 minutes, start-to-finish to find and discern how to use the USPTO’s PAIR database for patents. If someone wanted to review a patent attorneys’ past filings, this would be a good place to start, but the best way to review their work is to request a sample.
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Post by business and social media attorney Ruth Carter, edited by patent attorney Joseph Meaney.