About our patent and trademark practice

Smith and Hopen, PA is AV-rated by Martindale-HubbellThe Law Office of Smith & Hopen concentrates its practice exclusively on intellectual property matters which include patents, trademarks, copyrights and related litigation. Our attorneys and patent agents have been recognized as leading practitioners in the area of high-technology intellectual property development. Some of the world's most esteemed publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Smart Business for the New Economy, Capital District Business Review, and The Business Journal cite our attorneys for their authority on patent, trademark and copyright protection.  Our firm is AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

Letters of Engagement:

We are often asked by clients for a “letter of engagement” prior to discussing an invention, a new branding campaign or other activity. We don’t provide such letters. Why? Simple: we find them a clear conflict of interest. As attorneys, we can inject terms and conditions into such agreements that dramatically favor the law firm over the client. However, what about our duty to represent our clients’ best interests? These letters of engagements proffered by bar associations and legal practice advisors immediately set the attorney and client in an adversarial relationship. A well-informed client would not sign such agreement without legal review. So, would the client have to hire Firm B to review an engagement letter for Firm A? Would Firm B also have a letter of engagement to sign prior to the review? The result is nonsensical.

Protecting the Client:

Every attorney at the firm is a member of both a state bar association and registered with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Both the state bars and the USPTO have strict requirements for client confidentiality and duty of care. Our attorneys have attended years of highly competitive professional schools, passed the state bar and the USPTO registration examinations and represented hundreds of clients over the years in the profession. State bars and the USPTO have rules and guidelines that strongly protect client rights.

Reputation is Key:

Make no mistake about it. There are unscrupulous attorneys whose actions do a disservice to the profession. Before you make any decision about hiring an attorney, ask other attorneys you might know. Who has a good reputation in the legal community? Which firm represents major clients and consistently achieves successful outcomes ? Which firm has the experience to find a solution in a situation that stumps other firms? For intellectual property attorneys, you can look up which patents and trademarks issue from their firm. From this information you can glean valuable insight. For example, does the firm represent reputable clients? Does the firm handle a broad spectrum of technologies or only focuses on a narrow niche? How many patents or trademarks has the firm handled? No iron-clad contract can guarantee excellent representation. It takes years of attentive service, personal attention and excellent outcomes to build a reputation in the legal community. Go with the firm with the best reputation.

Confidentiality

No successful patent attorney will “steal” your invention. In fact, the reality is that inventing is hard work. It takes not just the spark of imagination, but project planning, marketing, capital investment and competition with the status quo. The attorney-client privilege in our profession is exceptionally strong: we are bound by confidentiality by both the state bar and the federal rules of the USPTO. The attorney-client privilege is the client’s right and is fiercely protected by ethical attorneys.

Billing and Payments

No attorney should ever send a bill they would not pay themselves. One benefit of hiring an experienced, specialized firm is that we’ve already seen almost every intellectual property scenario. Clients do not get billed for us to learn even moderately complicated issues of patent, trademark or copyright law. With thousands of patent and trademark prosecutions under our belt, we handle matters efficiently knowing the path to take to achieve the best possible result. The same applies to more complicated proceedings such as Inter Partes Review and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board proceedings. Where we can estimate a flat fee, we provide a written estimate ahead of doing the work. Where the matter is contested, such as a litigation, we bill down to the second with detailed logs of the work we perform to advance the client’s objective. There is no “rounding” up to the next thirty minutes or hour.

Building a Relationship

We are privileged to work in an area of law that rewards innovation and success. However, intellectual property matters are complicated and can be intimidating for first-time clients. We are selective with the clients we represent because our goal is a long-term relationship. The more success we can bring to a client the better off we are together. No other area of law affords the same type of relationship and we are honored to play a part in our clients’ financial and scientific achievements.


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