As legal service fees continue to rise five percent or more year after year, corporate IP managers, such as Chief IP Counsel and the like, continually face pressures from their management teams to reduce outside counsel legal expenses. The current economic downturn has also resulted in corporate legal budgets being slashed, thus increasing the pressure on corporate IP managers to reduce outside counsel costs, even while IP asset value is becoming more important to C-level management. As a result, the need for corporate IP managers to achieve outside counsel fee relief while at the same time maintaining IP legal service quality is more acute than ever today. Today, there are a number of commonly accepted methods to achieve outside IP counsel fee relief including fixed (or "capped") fee arrangements and a percentage reduction per total hours billed, as well as electronic billing systems set up to automatically audit law firm bills.
Analysts say that the current economic downturn will likely last at least until early 2010. While this no doubt seems like almost an eternity for the average consumer, for business strategic planning purposes, this date is just around the corner. Indeed, business managers at many companies are likely conducting “short term” strategic planning efforts targeted for introduction in mid-2010. This might account for the recent uptick in job postings for experienced corporate intellectual property attorneys. I see this increase in job opportunities as signifying that smart corporate leaders are realizing that sustainable business success requires companies to not only introduce innovative products and technology offerings, but also that they strategically protect such innovations. As a result, I believe that more companies will seek to hire strategic in-house IP counsel, which is good news for us IP types. Of course, the traditional model of hiring an in-house IP counsel results in
Your company has a question about your company's patent portfolio. This is an issue for your company's in-house or outside patent counsel, right? Maybe not. If the question relates to whether an invention is patentable and whether the patent is likely to grant, a patent attorney is the correct person to contact. But if the question is whether you should obtain a patent on a patentable invention, your company's patent counsel is quite probably not the correct source of counsel. The latter is a question of patent strategy, which is inherently a business question, not a legal question. However, many businesses assume that when a patent issue comes up, a patent attorney should be contacted because a patent attorney knows about patents. So why are patent attorneys typically not suited to address patent business questions? As many people know, useful, novel and unobvious inventions are patentable. Significantly, however, there is no