Welcome to Ask the Expert with noted radio host, Steve Sleeper. Each week, Steve interviews entrepreneurs and professionals and shares their intriguing stories of success and service. Now, here's radio veteran, Steve Sleeper.
Steve: Our guest today is Chris Maiorana, who's a patent lawyer out of Detroit, Michigan, St. Clair Shores, just north of downtown. Chris, tell m e a little bit about yourself and your firm.
Chris: I'm a patent attorney. I have two other attorneys that work with me, so we're a small intellectual property law firm. We tend to call them Boutique IP law firm when we specialize in intellectual property only.
Steve: What is intellectual property law?
Chris: Intellectual property law is a general umbrella term that the judges came up with maybe twenty or thirty years ago that covers patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
Steve: Patent law; is that the same thing then?
Chris: Patent law is a subset of intellectual property law.
Steve: Okay. Can you give me the definition of a patent?
Chris: A patent is a right to exclude someone from using your invention. You only get a patent if you are successful in prosecuting the patent through the Patent Office. You file an application for your invention, then you have to negotiate with the Patent Office to get your application to issue as a patent. A big part of what we do is work with the Patent Office to get inventions pushed through. We look at the Patent Office as a big red tape machine. We cut through the red tape.
Steve: I saw this on your website. You have issued over sixteen hundred patents. That sounds like a lot. How is that compared to other firms?
Chris: That's something we take a lot of pride in, for sure. We have had three core attorneys for over fifteen years now and we get thirty to forty patents per attorney per year. There are some surveys for law firms with number of patents they have per attorney. We are at the top of the lists.
Steve: I suppose your clients want the best deal they can get. They want your help, but they don't want to spend a ton of money. Is there anything you do to keep your costs down?
Chris: Sure. There are, in general, two types of clients that we work with. There are corporate clients that have multiple inventions per year. We work with them over and over. There are smaller clients that have one invention they need pushed through. Either case, the issue is the Patent Office mails what we call an “office action”. We need to respond and there are attorney fees involved.
If we can limit our interaction with the Patent Office to one main response and get a patent, that's super effective because there are no follow up legal bills. Our goal is to respond one time. If you look at the stats from the Patent Office on how many cases are allowed with only one response, we are about fifteen to twenty percent better. That's the best way to cut expenses.
Even if we have to do a second response, we are still less on average. That leads to a significant savings. If you're a big client with a portfolio, you're doing two or three responses a month, maybe even more. If you can cut down the total number per case, that's good.
... to be continued
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