Pressuring clients for more work...good idea?

Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at May 8, 2006 03:06 PM

"[t]he demand to meet new billing goals has led patent prosecutors to pressure clients for more work."

Interesting article in the most recent IP Law & Practice. Entitled "A House Divided Cannot Merge” (copy not (yet?) available on-line), the article starts out talking about a failed merger between two big IP firms, and then transitions into a discussion of the high billing goals that many patent prosecutors are having a hard time meeting.  Apparently, “[t]he demand to meet new billing goals has led patent prosecutors to pressure clients for more work.”  Yikes.

Such a strategy, where a large client who doesn’t feel they have any other patent counsel options (believing that there are no other patent firms having enough capacity to take on their work) is pressured to produce more work or else (we’ll withdraw) is sure to back-fire.

One solution (for large firms) to achieve the same goal (get more work) would be to help your client help itself.  I know it is a controversial thought, but rather than pull out a club, why not try rolling up your sleeves?  It takes a little thinking outside the box, but can be done.

For instance, hire someone like frequent Rethink(IP) contributor Bill Meade’s BasicIP…a company who’s entire purpose is working with patent attorneys and their clients to increase patent disclosures, trade secret programs and inventor incentives.  I like to think of them as invention disclosure commandos.

Personally, I think that helping your clients better protect their IP, rather than threatening them into producing more, is a better option.

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Tracy Coyle Says:

May 8, 2006 11:45 PM

Of course it is easier to litigate over patents than it is to, oh I don't know, create something?! I work for an attorney and watch with despair law firms that seek first to generate billing rather than actually try to solve problems, destroy their own reputations almost as fast as the lives they wreck havoc in.

Any company that generates 1000 patents a year is going to be less 'offended' than a company that generates only 2 a year by any potential infringement. Can anyone imagine a law firm telling it's partners, get out there and tell clients we need more criminal work...


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