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Patents are strategically invaluable, yet their prosecution is often a tactical commodity under fixed fees

These days, patents are revered by many companies. To identify, protect, and license patents has become a widespread and important initiative.

Curiously, at the same time one of the most common legal services subject to fixed fees are – you guessed it – patent applications and prosecutions. Many law departments have negotiated fixed fees for the services of law firms that prepare and prosecute patents (See my post of May 24, 2006 and some data.). Often those arrangements recognize the varying complexity of applications and break the fixed fees into two or three tiers of cost. Some law firms take on the work at break even levels, or even as loss leaders.

It’s hard to reconcile the strategic value of patents with assembly-line pricing.