I recently did a pretty in-depth search for a patent attorney and learned some things (which may be well-known to more experienced IP wranglers):
- When you search for attorneys, you are looking for "patent prosecution" or "patent counseling" services. Prosecution sounds like lawsuits, right? In this case it doesn't involve lawsuits; it means helping you prepare your patent application and shepherd it through the process.
- There are about a billion patent attorneys out there and they vary widely in their activities and subject matter expertise. My innovation involves a sort of social interaction online. It was important to find someone who understood why this is potentially patentable and could expertly search for prior patents that might be related. In my search, I found a lot of expertise in areas like semiconductors, chemistry, consumer products, biomedical...and really not much expertise in Internet innovations. I ended up finding a firm on the west coast that I feel is a great fit. Read the attorney bios. Also don't be shy about calling one and having a conversation. I cold-called three and all were happy to have an initial conversation.
- Some searching tips. On USPTO.gov, go to the advanced patent search. You can look up patents assigned to companies you like or who are doing similar things, and then find out who represents them. For example:
AN = assignee name. This will find all patents assigned to Apple. Look at some individual patents and on an individual patent page, search for "attorney". You'll find out what law firm advised the company. Big companies may use a variety of different firms, and these may or may not be right for your situation.
You can also find the patents that a law firm filed, to see what their expertise is:
- LREP/Orrick and ABST/geolocation
The first will find all the patents in which the firm Orrick was the legal representation. The second will find all the patents represented by Orrick which refer to "geolocation" in the abstract.
Good luck! If you want more information you can message me.