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How does a small/tiny biz FIND & ASCERTAIN a "REASONABLE" IP attorney/firm for USPTO+Contracts+Licensing of Computing Products?

Houston, TX |

We are asking this question here, (1) as we have exhausted the grapevine that surfaces only the $500+ experts, (2) we believe our situation/stature/demographic (set forth below) cannot be that unique, and (3) especially since the $500+ experts are no longer in our current range.

About-us: Practically a startup (a 7+year old tiny biz) with multiple Tech recognitions, at that point in the S-Curve, facing the chicken and egg situation again, requiring a "REASONABLE+AFFORDABLE" IP attorney/firm, specialized in Computing/IT industry and willing to be our "goto" [OR] a GC with IP background, whichever is more economical/reasonable.

A Texas sized THANK YOU to those of you who do take time to answer, and we pray we find someone in/around Houston [OR] with Skype/Webcast.

Attorney Answers 10


  1. There are a number of IP attorneys on this website and most have their rates and locations listed on their profiles. I would search for one based on your location and read some peer reviews and client testimonials and call one you feel comfortable with.


  2. In addition to sites like AVVO, there are attorney search and referral networks that specialize in matching attorneys and clients. Also, you can contact the Intellectual Property section of the Texas State Bar (or California State Bar for that matter) for a referral to an IP/patent lawyer that works with start-ups.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.


  3. As I'm sure you know you're correct. The price you can afford is below what most registered USPTO practitioners (attorneys and agents) are willing to accept, especially those of us who do live in the U.S. And that is particularly true if you are looking for experienced practitioners. As I see it, you have three options: (1) find an experienced practitioner who likes you enough to be willing to take a pay cut or who shares your vision for growth; (2) find a newer practitioner hungry for business - but then you may not be getting necessary experience; and (3) look at some practitioners who live outside of the U.S. and who may have lower costs of living - but then again you're risking quality control issues in their education, training, and ability to go after them if they misrepresent you. You might try a cite like odesk.com and look for some patent practitioners in your price range. But you must do your due diligence on vetting them. Good luck, I appreciate the difficult situation you are in.


  4. There are many practitioners that fall under your qualifications, and because much of IP law is under federal law, you can shop around most of the U.S. to find capable counsel. However, finding reasonable counsel that covers your business' particular issues requires more of an understanding of the legal issues your business currently faces (or will face in the upcoming future). Additionally, Avvo's directory and state bar IP section directories throughout the U.S. provide good resources as well. If you are solely looking for qualified counsel in the Houston area, please let me know and I can provide a couple of referrals. Good luck!

    This response is only general information and is not legal advice. It does not form an attorney-client relationship and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. You should seek a qualified attorney before taking any action related to your inquiry.


  5. My rate is much lower than $500 and I imagine I (and other less expensive attorneys) have done considerably more software patent work recently than most of your $500+ experts. Most IP attorneys will do prosecution work on a fixed fee basis anyway so that the hourly rate is irrelevant.


  6. As others have pointed out, there are Patent attorneys with IT experience with rates lower than $500. You do not really need a Houston-based IP attorney. For instance, I'm in SC and many of my clients are around the country and the world. There are also other less conventional arrangements besides flat fee and fixed fee, but you'll need a one-on-one conversation with your prospective attorney to determine if alternative arrangements are appropriate for all involved.

    Good luck!

    Per the AVVO terms of use and all applicable state and federal statutes, these general comments are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult an attorney to discuss your specific issues and facts.


  7. As others have pointed out, there are Patent attorneys with IT experience with rates lower than $500. You do not really need a Houston-based IP attorney. For instance, I'm in SC and many of my clients are around the country and the world. There are also other less conventional arrangements besides flat fee and fixed fee, but you'll need a one-on-one conversation with your prospective attorney to determine if alternative arrangements are appropriate for all involved.

    Good luck!

    Per the AVVO terms of use and all applicable state and federal statutes, these general comments are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult an attorney to discuss your specific issues and facts.


  8. Personal referrals are always best.

    You may prefer finding someone in your geographic area so you can meet them face to face, but this is not required.

    Without a direct referral, I would search the US PTO Attorney/Agent Registry, https://oedci.uspto.gov/OEDCI/. You might consider a patent agent rather than an attorney. This is someone licensed to represent you before the Patent Office, but who is not an attorney. An agent may be somewhat less expensive than an attorney.

    Someone mentioned a state bar association. The city of Houston probably also has one you can call for a qualified referral. There is of course, this website and nolo.com, where you can read client reviews.

    As my colleagues stated above, many practitioners offer flat fees and payment plans. Some accept credit cards. I have also heard of a company called Legal Shield that offers legal "insurance." They may have a way for you to finance your invention or referrals to patent attorneys. www.legalshield.com

    In the end, you want to choose a practitioner who you like and trust.

    Good luck.


  9. If you're a small start up company, you need an attorney who can and does work with small and emerging technology companies. There are MANY high quality attorneys out there who will bill $200 - $300 hour for almost any kind of IP work. I'm not talking about entry level or unqualified attorneys who lack the expertise to help you. I know a large number of 20 year practitioners who have computer engineering degrees, MBAs, and law degrees who only charge $300/hour. Some of the most expensive attorneys are found in large US cities (think LA, SanFran, DC, NY, etc.).

    You should broaden your search to include other markets. Think smaller markets, away from the coast, and smaller law firms. While you may need a TX attorney for other than IP issues, if you find an good IP attorney that has 15-20 years of experience, he or she will likely be able to plug you into their network of attorneys who can help you with significant needs for far less than $500/hour.

    This answer is not intended to be legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. All information posted is for educational purposes only and may not be applicable to any specific person or situation.


  10. Your question is a very good one. Many small and startup businesses need legal assistance in contracts, intellectual Property and litigation counseling, but are not able to afford the top rates for these businesses.

    Our firm, Adli Law Group, has long tailored and structured itself to cater to these clients. You can find more information about our firm and the services we offer by visiting our website.

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