My Thanksgivings growing up were potluck-style, my family bringing traditional Persian foods, my aunt’s family bringing traditional Filipino foods, and everyone doing their best imitation on traditional Thanksgiving dishes. I’ve found that using a similar mindset can greatly improve patent drafting and prosecution. Unlike a more traditional patent law firm model where applications in a specific field are drafted by an individual who only works in that field, I’ve been exposed to different approaches with patent technology specialists having diverse backgrounds working with experienced attorneys who practice in a wide range of technologies.
Why can this be advantageous?
Patent drafting inevitably requires some amount of learning. Inventions are, by definition, new and anyone other than the inventors is not an expert. Traditional firms might think it is beneficial to assign these inventions only to attorneys and/or agents considered experts in a particular field that seems closest to the new invention. However, they bring their own preconceived notions and experiences in a narrow field which may result in a tunnel-view of the problem and technical solution of the invention. When I work with a team having diverse backgrounds to prepare a new patent application, past experiences are used to deepen and broaden the scope of an invention and the scope of the description, thereby setting up the application to enable a diverse range of arguments in support of patentability. Interdisciplinary review ensures that the traditional aspects of the invention are described while strengthening the patent application as different eyes with different backgrounds learn the invention and provide their own spin.
From a legal standpoint, USPTO guidelines are continuously changing, further requiring attorneys and agents to, again, learn and adapt. My experience working in a collaborative team-based environment helps understand these changes from different points of view. For example, by being included in monthly continued legal learning events which include analysis of recent cases, I can get a better feel for the direction the USPTO is going and then adapt drafting strategies today for the USPTO guidelines changes of tomorrow.
The structure and strategy of a collaborative approach enables technical team members and legal team members to maximize their individual skills and the resulting patent application is more of a melting pot of these ideas due to the collaborative approach. Collaboration occurs not only during the searching, evaluation and drafting phases, but is also carried through during prosecution affording not only more robust patent applications with a smorgasbord of concepts with varying scope, but better ideas for developing a range of options to respond to Office action rejections by the USPTO. Inclusion of these types of diverse strategies in each patent application increases a client’s stronghold around technology, and builds a stronger and higher quality patent portfolio.