Let me first start off by saying most (about 95%) of all the patent attorneys I meet are very smart and do great work.  Patent attorneys are usually very brainy and even a little bit nerdy.   You will typically find a patent attorney that makes $500,000+ per year driving an old Honda minivan or station wagon.  They are not flashy or sleazy like many lawyers seen on TV or movies.

However, there are some dirty tricks that some patent attorneys will pull on unsuspecting clients.   I have worked with 100s of different patent attorneys over the years and the one thing that drives me crazy is when a patent attorney will get an allowance on a patent that will provide very little protection for their client.  This is the result of too narrow claim scope.

It’s all about claim scope

At the end of your non-provisional patent application you should have one or more claims that define the scope of coverage your patent will receive.  You could have the best written application with amazing looking drawings but if your claim scope does not properly protect your idea, then your patent is essentially useless.

The trick

The trick that some patent attorneys use is that they will make very narrow claims.  Narrow claims are easy to get allowed so it makes the client happy.  I once saw a patent attorney from a top law firm who bills $450 per hour write his broadest claim with over 15 features or elements in it.  This is awful because the competition could simply take out one of those features and legally get around the patent.

Some patent attorneys use this trick because they know their client does not properly understand claim scope and will just be happy to have an issued patent.  Years later when the client tries to sue someone they will learn a hard lesson that their claim scope was not broad enough to be able to effectively use their patent.
Don’t get fooled

If you are working with a patent attorney who is drafting your claims, you should read the first claim (claim #1).  Underline each feature or component listed in that claims and ask yourself “do I really need that feature to make my invention work?”  If you answered “no” to that question, then your claim scope may be too narrow.

Your goal is to get a valuable patent that covers your invention, not simply to get a patent allowed as quickly as possible.

Again, most patent attorneys are good and very honest, just make sure you are getting a good value for what you are paying them for.

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Free USPTO Provisional Patent Template

My personal provisional patent template used to file over 200 patent applications with the USPTO