I spoke with the third patent attorney today on the phone. She seemed honest and direct. She recommended I not spend more than $1500 at this point on legal fees, to cover a patent/IP search and a provisional application. (Wow, that's a far cry short of the $3500 for a provisional, or potentially $12,000 or more for a full utility patent, which was quoted to me by one of the other attorneys). Her take was I don't yet have a "product" so I'm best off pursuing rather minimal legal protections. They should be sufficient. (Her bio and publications support a view that she has extensive knowledge and experience, and thus can be trusted on this count). If all goes well, I will get one or another of these federal research grants, which will sustain me as I move toward developing such a product, preparing me for the full utility patent within the year a provisional allows me.
I'm scheduled to meet with one of the other attorneys on Wednesday morning, and possibly the second that afternoon. I'm leaning toward working with this third. She also recommended someone for me to call regarding my federal grant applications. So I did. We talked for about 20 minutes, and agreed to meet for coffee tomorrow. She's a fellow former academic (she was working on her PhD at my alma mater when I was an undergraduate there!), and a fellow inventor/entrepreneur. Should be fun.
Today, I drafted up a 2000 word technology narrative to form the basis for a patent application and for grant proposals. It's a good start, but still a draft. I'll bring that to the meeting (along with a non-disclosure agreement). She's agreed to look it over (rather she insisted on it), and give me feedback.
Oh, and there's a high ranking government official coming to town (well, two hours away) on Tuesday afternoon, to discuss research priorities. So, I'll be taking off just after lunch with my business plan partner to head to that.