Business Spotlight: Patent attorneys on Main

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Local entrepreneurs and inventors may be surprised to find experienced patent attorneys on Main Street. Other than its location, what makes the six-month-old CrossPond Law firm unique, is the technical and international business experience the attorneys bring to town.

“Our competitive advantage is that we are experienced and licensed in America and Chartered in the United Kingdom and other countries, so we can serve clients in their own time zone,” Brian A. Schar said.

That ability makes it much easier for clients to work collaboratively with their attorney to navigate the patent process better and faster, according to Schar.

“Small inventors get really excited about getting a patent, but hey don’t know what they were going to do about it,” he remarked. “I ask them what they plan to do with it.”

“I hear people say, ‘I am going to get a patent and license,’ or sell it to someone,” he commented. “It’s not that easy.”

Based on the conversation with the client, he may advise the client to go ahead with it, or he may tell them to get more information. Inventors need to know the market for the product, where they can find design and manufacturing and where they are going to get the money to get started.

Sometimes a simple invention has a huge market and sometimes one might have a good invention, but it will cost more to make than the public will pay. “There could be something on the market that is not quite as good, but costs a lot less,” Schar noted.

One very successful product he helped patent was a plastic bolt to hold framing in place while concrete is poured. Schar said it is highly effective, low cost and now commonly used in construction that involves concrete.

He might even tell them that for their purposes, it could be smarter to get the government forms, write down the idea, pay the three to five thousand dollar fees, and get a provisional patent, which gives the inventor a year to follow-up.

Schar admits that the two to four-year labyrinth of paperwork can be daunting, especially for a first-time inventor. “It is not a quick process.”

It is not cheap either, attorney fees could be $10,000 to $12,000 if an inventor decides to hire a professional who has the education and experience to be sure the product is protected.

One reason for the cost is the high level of knowledge required to work in the patent field. In addition to a law degree, patent attorneys must hold a degree in a technical field and take a special exam. For example, Schar graduated as an engineer and his partner Sandeep Birdi, graduated with honors in chemistry before they attended law school.

Both attorneys have extensive experience working with individual clients as well as small, medium and multi-national firms. They can handle tech transactions and general contract issues that arise in the course of global business operations too.

Schar said he was practicing in Menlo Park when he and Birdi decided to go into business. “I had worked for Sandeep as a client. We had a couple of built-in clients in the beginning….With technology, I can work pretty much work from anywhere. We are working with clients from Dallas to Fremont,” Schar explained why he chose to locate in Martinez. “I do like being in the same metropolitan region.”

He said he was drawn by the quality of life, convenience and office rental prices in contrast to Meno Park. “The history a lot to do with it. I can walk to the water, get some coffee and a great sandwich, or walk to the brewery, Schar observed. He likes being able to choose among four BART stations to go to San Francisco and taking the train to Sacramento. “I can get to Sacramento faster on the train than driving in traffic,” he said. “It’s more centrally located than you would think.”

One more reason he is happy with his move to Martinez is: “My daughter was commenting on how nice everybody was.”

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