Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fancy Pants

I mentioned on Tuesday that I had called a patent law office. I got a call that night on my cell phone (which happened to still be on) around 9:00pm at home, while we were trying to get the boys in bed. Okay, I said, now's not really a good time to talk. Can I call you tomorrow during the day? Sure, I'll call you. Didn't happen, of course. I called him back around 3:30 yesterday. He's busy, right now, you want to leave a voice mail? Sure... today I figure I'd like to reach them before I head out of town on Saturday. I call. He's on the phone right now. You could leave a voice m... Uh, I'd rather not, not terribly effective. Oh, well, you can try back in about 10 minutes.

Alright, eventually I call back, and reach a live party on the phone. He didn't seem real interested in me, in my ideas. He seemed to light up describing that they'd want a $2000 retainer to get started, and likely another $10,000 to go ahead with a patent application. Um, yeah, well, to be honest, I think it's a bit premature to be working on a patent application. I'm really more in the development stage, but I'm ready to start talking with individuals about partnering with me, and possibly pitching to venture capitalists or corporations for funding.

Sure, says he, yeah, well, like I said first thing would be to get us that retainer, then we can get started.

Hmmmm. You know, I've got nothing against people making an honest living. But then, if I'm going to hire a high-priced suit to stand in my court, I'd like that the person wearing that suit has some interest in what I'm doing. I didn't quite feel that rapport with this fellow. Most importantly, he didn't seem at all interested in the work of it. I guess he doesn't care if the ideas are valid as long as he gets paid to do his schtick.

What did I expect? Well, I thought I could meet with an attorney for an hour or two at, say $150-200/hour. We could discuss things, he'd bounce ideas off me, give me an understanding of how things work, which direction to go to get started, how to protect my ideas, what sorts of things a non-disclosure agreement would need to cover. You know, what one might cover in an hour or two. Then we'd check back with each other in a couple months as things progressed. But I guess it doesn't take long to hand someone a bill for $2000, what 10 seconds or so? Why spend an hour for a measly $200?

For now, I think I'll read over my Nolo Patents for Beginners and Patent, Copyright & Trademark. That seems like a good place to start. I guess I can draft up my own non-disclosure agreements if necessary, or simply keep everything tight to my chest. The one consistent thing I've heard from many people is protect your ideas. That motivates me to do something. But I'm not sure plunking down two grand to some suit who can't properly return calls is the trick.

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