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Switching Patent Research Providers: Better the Devil You Know?

by Luke M. Barbin, CEO

I’ve heard from countless attorneys through the years that ALL third-party patent research providers stink. This disillusionment among attorneys inspired me to launch my own elite patent research firm. Our team is determined to be part of the solution and eliminate this perception problem once and for all.

The negative sentiments in the air are clearly echoed by the outsourcing habits of attorneys who commission third-party research work. For example, many firms who commission outside research have internal associates conduct the same research before, during, and/or after it goes to outsourcing.  Others outsource the same project to multiple outside search firms to increase their chances of success. Still others design search strategies in incredible detail (down to the Boolean query language and classes) before handing off the search to their third-party researcher. 

I’m not knocking any of these strategies as they can increase the likelihood of success and decrease chances of missing something important…which leads to better outcomes for end clients. 

It is clear that many attorneys don’t trust outside research providers, and, therefore, they are less inclined to venture very far afield from the ones they currently use, even if they aren’t particularly satisfied.

So, let me suggest a few low risk strategies that may be helpful in evaluating and comparing the alternatives (like Techson) to the “devil” you know:

1.  Previous Project - commission a paid, discounted, or free search from an alternative provider using a search where you already know the best answers. Check their results, their logic, and their customer service. If you want the investigation to occur blindly, ask for a bona fide estimate and pay for the search.  If you want to pay less to test, ask the provider for a discount or complimentary search, and let them know it is for evaluation purposes.

2. Double Blind Search - commission a search from your current provider, and also request a full paid search in parallel from an alternative vendor you’d like to try.  Don’t tell either vendor that they are being tested or compared.  See the how they perform under natural circumstances.

3.  Cage Match - commission a search from your current provider, and also request a free or discounted search in parallel from an alternative vendor you’d like to try, and tell them the results are being compared to a current vendor. The alternative vendor may be willing to comp or discount as a marketing expense for the opportunity to earn your business.

4.  New Business Pitch - if pitching to win work or re-bid under RFP for a big client or prospective client, or other business development objectives.  Ask the alternate vendor if they can help you do a gratis research project that may help you win the work.  Think:

·      invalidity search for impending litigation,

·      EoU/Patent-to-Product mapping for monetization opportunities, or

·      landscape search for competitive intel. 

Most of these strategies can be treated as marketing expenses by the search vendor you are evaluating, and while low risk for you, they represent opportunities for you to identify and deliver the best outsourced services for your customer.

Lastly, try Techson – we are changing the status quo for patent research – and we will gladly discount or comp a project for the opportunity to prove it to you!