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Is there a method to locating a patent lawyer in the United States that specializes in engineering and mechanical design, and can create engineering patent drawings from a paper sketch?

I can do a search and find local patent lawyers, but they seem to be generalists that claim they can do anything, and I don't know how reliable or trustworthy these statements are.

It seems like the first person I contact is going to try to tell me they can do it all, even if they can't, and I am possibly going to get stuck with someone who doesn't know what they're doing, but I won't know this since I am obviously inexperienced.

Worse yet is that I live in a rural area in northwest Wisconsin, away from any large cities with engineering colleges, so it's unlikely I will find anyone with these skills I am seeking near me.

Due to the power of the Internet it doesn't seem all that important to look for services from a local lawyer.

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All patent lawyers have an engineering or scientific educational background - it is required. Getting someone with a degree and some experience as a ME is very doable. On the other hand "a simple mechanical device" is something a high % of patent practitioners are well qualified to do. There is an association (National Association of Patent Practitioners) of patent attorneys and patent agents who all focus on patent prosecution rather than litigation. Most are in solo or small firms. Their member directory allows searching by technical areas and zip code. (I am a member who has stopped taking on new clients.)

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Professional websites are a good start. In addition to LinkedIn (as Chris mentions) and the NAPP (as George White mentions), you can find a lot of similar information on the bio page of a law firm website. These sorts of professional sites will usually tell you about the individual's:

  • years of experience
  • technical degree and level of education
  • practitioner status (patent agent vs. patent attorney)
  • advertised area of expertise

However, there is other information you seek. Once you're in contact with someone, your best route is to ask them these questions:

  • Can you send me a few granted patents and/or published patent applications that represent your work with mechanical devices?
  • Can you send me representative patent drawings? Do you perform this work in-house or do you contract it out? (A lot of people will have the drawings done by an outside specialist who they contract.)
  • What fraction of your patent drafting work is done with mechanical devices?

If you go with a large firm, it might also be worth asking how much of the work will be performed by the partner vs. the less experienced associate. (There's a tradeoff here--you don't necessarily want the partner doing all of the work because his/her time is far more expensive than an associate's time.) However, if you ask a big firm for a representative patent as a sample of their work, you might not get a patent that was produced by the same person who will be doing your work.

Usually, in the patent world, there's a divide between (a) pharmaceutical/ biotech and (b) software/ mechanical/ electrical. Mechanical devices are typically viewed as the easiest patents to write. This is for good reason: they are simpler and typically more straightforward. This is all by way of saying that you should have some initial suspicion toward a pharma/biotech patent attorney who offers to write/prosecute your application, but you don't really need to hold this suspicion toward a software/electrical patent attorney.

It's not uncommon for a company or inventor to use an attorney who is not local. To keep costs some many companies will use a seasoned patent attorney/agent who used to work at a big firm but now practices solo and lives in a cheaper part of the country. All other things being equal, a patent agent will usually be less expensive than a patent attorney, and a solo practitioner will be less expensive than a large firm.


(I am no expert, and this response is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney or legal expert to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Laws can differ dramatically from country to country, state to state, and technology field to technology field.

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    This is a good answer, especially about the ability to work with a patent attorney long distance. I've done this and with telephone, email and web conferencing it is an acceptable way to get a patent written. – Eric S Jun 22 '19 at 16:57
  • Thanks @EricShain! Also, Dale, a quick note about terminology--when I say "patent drafting," I'm referring to writing the actual application. "Drafting" is used to refer to both (a) writing the application and (b) drawing the figures. Just a heads up that "drafting" can mean "writing." – jdpatent Jun 24 '19 at 2:20
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You can typically find the patent lawyer's background on LinkedIn. Most patent lawyers will include their education background including whether they have an engineering degree.

You are right to be cautious of lawyers' backgrounds because sitting for the patent bar requires only certain science/technical degrees and not necessarily a particular engineering specialty.

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