Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at April 8, 2005 04:27 PM
On law.com’s IP Practice Center this morning was a link to an article in the Texas Lawyer (subscription required) called the Pros and Cons of Drafting Patent Applications in India.
The article is an interesting read, discussing the concerns of exporting technology, but also mentions the “Pros” of outsourcing patent work to India, namely saving money. For instance: "It's not unusual for GCs to pay attorneys' fees of $10,000 or more for drafting a patent application and $2,000 for responding to an office action from the USPTO" and "[t]he opportunity to obtain these professional services at a discount of 50 percent or more clearly appeals to GCs with a tight budget."
Costs are always a concern, and always should be. But don't assume you have to give up legal expertise or risk disclosing your invention overseas when cutting costs. There are other options to high legal bills, namely insourcing.
Insourcing? Insourcing is sending your work inland rather than overseas. Sadly, other industries have been quicker to grasp this concept than the legal market. For instance, Conference Calls Unlimited (CCU) (in Iowa) is an amazing company who through doing business inland has become a true gem for telephone conferencing services…not by spending millions on advertising, but through providing competitive rates and great customer service (something their “big city” rivals can’t). [note: CCU’s CEO Zane Safrit has summarized his view of insourcing in his manifesto "Outsourcing Our Economy: The other shore of offshoring [pdf]"]
So why not consider insourcing your work to smaller firms in smaller cities? Having lower overhead and cost of living costs, you’d be surprised how you can “obtain these professional services at a discount of 50 percent or more” right in your own back yard. The real irony is this: the attorneys at smaller firms in smaller metropolitan areas are typically under smaller billable hour requirements (if under a requirement at all). Translation: They actually have time to stay current on new developments in the law and are willing to invest THEIR time in developing relationships with clients. Try to get both of those things from either BigCity USA or India. You can't.
Outsourcing is not the solution...rethinking IP (and insourcing) is.