Tarek Fadel writes in Fast Company that, even as a lawyer, the eight-year, $20,000 process of getting a patent on his user-responsive bar exam preparation software caught him by surprise. His article outlines some of the pratfalls that befall entrepreneurs who attempt to navigate the patent process without a patent attorney.
One thing that jumped out what his lauding his patent attorney for doing what patent attorneys are supposed to do: namely, identify the flaws in the application and work with the Examiner (not against him or her!) to remedy the flaws in a ways that does not undermine the patent protection or stray from the inventor's commercial embodiment.
Here at HLR, the very purpose of this company is to understand your company so that the work product produced here is tailored to your needs, goals, and expectations. It sent a little chill down my spine to hear Mr. Fadel be so impressed that the last patent attorney he relied on finally took the time to learn about his product and his business before tackling the rejections in the file wrapper. I hope you take this to heart -- investing in a patent attorney (even when you're a smart lawyer yourself) is worth the money; the earlier, the better!