For a patent attorney, being a deep technical expert – even a ‘geek’ – can be highly advantageous. Originally a slang term, ‘geek’ implies an expert or a person fanatical about an intellectual pursuit or interest. In the past, geeks were primarily confined to research labs, for example the archetypal boffin in a white coat; however, nowadays, technologically slanted geeks are globally influential. Today they occupy senior positions in the corporate world and have substantial commercial power.
The main role of a patent attorney is to translate an invention into a legal document – potentially maximising value to the inventor. As technology becomes ever more intricate and specialised, future attributes of an effective patent attorney will include not only legal skill and experience, but also deep technical expertise and an understanding of the technological and commercial landscapes relevant to a client’s business. After all, how can complex inventions be translated into valuable patents if an attorney has only a peripheral understanding and appreciation of these factors?
The creation of valuable patents and the measurement of patent value are both hot intellectual property topics. There’s been a shift in focus in recent years from valuing large defensive patent portfolios to considering the value of patents on an individual basis. Although patent valuation can be a complex exercise and often market dependent, many patents can be driven up the quality ladder through skilled drafting.
Deep technical expertise coupled with knowledge of the competitive landscape can bring an extra dimension to drafting, which is difficult for a generalist patent attorney. A deep technical expertise often translates to a holistic view of the invention and its interpretation into a solid description and patent claims to strategically position the patent application and help define the invention’s future development direction.
When considering patent drafting, think carefully about whether your patent attorney has the level of ‘geekiness’ you need to elevate your invention up the value chain because it might benefit your business in more ways than one!