A lawyer working on a patent is one of the least lucrative jobs in the country, and many firms are starting to rethink the nature of their roles.
This week, the National Association of Patent Attorneys published a new survey asking attorneys to estimate how much their compensation would be if they sued a company over a patent.
“If you have a patent, you’re not going to get much money,” says Aaron K. Drezner, a patent lawyer at Fisher and Phillips who conducted the survey.
“It’s like if I sued an airline for patent infringement and the airline has a $1 billion airline business.
I would lose everything.”
“There’s no way to know for sure,” says William P. Hahn, a professor at George Mason University and the director of the George Mason Center for Patent Law.
“The patent system is not designed to give you the benefit of the doubt.”
If you have an idea for a new medical technology, for instance, you don’t get a patent until after you’ve developed the technology, so there is no guarantee that the patent is going to be invalidated by a court.
“That’s what a patent system works for,” says Hahn.
“But it doesn’t work for the legal system, which is what you’re working on.”
As a result, most attorneys don’t know what they’re paying their attorneys for.
A few have estimates, though, based on the average hourly wage of patent lawyers across the country.
“In many instances, that’s what they’ll say,” says Drezne.
“Some have said $75,000, and some say $200,000.”
Drezney says that even with a reasonable salary estimate, a lawyer’s compensation is still a fraction of what a typical patent attorney earns.
“A patent attorney would earn about $40,000 per year,” he says.
“I’m not saying that a patent attorney’s salary is $50,000.
But it’s not nearly as much as I would have made without the patent.”
For example, patent lawyers are only paid $1,200 per month, which doesn’t include expenses like travel and lodging, according to the survey results.
Dreyer says that, even if the average patent lawyer makes $50 an hour, it’s unlikely that the same lawyer would earn $1 million a year.
“Even if you do the math, the salaries of patent attorneys are so small that the compensation is so low that you’re going to see the patent system being mismanaged,” says DeRay.
If you are not compensated at the typical level for the time you spend working on the patent, it can affect your job prospects.
“As a lawyer you have to figure out what is going on,” says Kieffer.
“What are the incentives for the other lawyers to do what you do?”
It’s not just patent lawyers that are facing an increased risk.
If a patent has been infringed, the government can seize your property, which could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Many people are looking for a way out of the system,” says Fink.
“They’re looking for some way to get out of litigation, or to do some kind of small business without having to pay lawyers.”
For many people, that means a patent can be a way to make extra money.
“Patent lawyers are going to work overtime and make a lot of money, because there are so many opportunities,” says Meeks.
“People are just going to take advantage of that.”
“When you look at what’s happening with the patent world today, it makes me wonder what’s going on in the legal world,” she says.
The patent system has a lot more to do with the nature and quality of the intellectual property it protects than it does with its actual legal status.
“All of the laws we rely on to protect the patent are created with a specific goal in mind,” says Sauer.
“You’re not supposed to make the law a law of the land, you are supposed to get the patent right.”
The problem is that many laws have become more favorable to patent owners in recent years.
“We’ve become a more patent-friendly society,” says Lohmann.
“For example, if you’re a doctor, and you want to patent a drug for a disease that you treat, you might patent it.
That’s the patent you need.
But if you want it for a product that’s used in a specific way, you may need to license it.
And those are all new and important areas for the patent to protect.”
The problem with the system right now is that it has too many rules and too many loopholes.” “
There is a need to look at the system, to make sure that it’s working properly.
The problem with the system right now is that it has too many rules and too many loopholes.”
As part of the survey, the group also asked lawyers to describe their patent lawyer’s