Automation in the Patent Field: From Fantasy to Reality

By Robert O’Loughlin, Harrity Associate

Before joining Harrity & Harrity, LLP at the beginning of 2020, I would have summarily dismissed the fairy tale that I could be drafting even half as many patent applications as I am regularly drafting today.  But, alas, here I am, bringing the tale to life.

Harrity, as a firm, has mastered a number of factors that play a large role in taking patent application drafting efficiency from fantasy to reality.  Such factors include, for example, employing a uniform writing style across the firm; utilizing a well-organized and uniform second attorney review structure that serves as the gatekeeper for the high level of quality that Harrity’s clients have come to expect from every piece of work product; having attorneys exclusively draft or prosecute applications to focus on and maximize each attorney’s strengths; and incentivizing efficiency with a pay-per-production compensation model.

One particular factor that deserves attention, however, is Harrity’s development and utilization of proprietary automation software.  It certainly has been no secret, as the decades have worn on, that automating tasks can greatly improve efficiency and, as a result, significantly increase output.  And it is no different in the world of patent application drafting.  Automation also improves the quality of the output, and it frees up an attorney to focus on the more substantive aspects of the application.  The automation software, known as Patent Draftr, at my disposal has been game-changing and has played no small role in making my decision to join Harrity life-changing.

Gone are the days of creating and maintaining folder after folder of template applications, file after file of template drawings, and page after page of boilerplate language.  The automation software (“the tools” as we so affectionately refer to them) takes care of these things.  With two or three mouse clicks to select options from a pull-down menu plugged right into my word processing user interface, I can generate a new patent application document, pre-filled with boilerplate language, templates for frequently used descriptions, client-approved formatting, and flags clearly identifying locations that require my attention.  Indeed, in many cases, even many of the personal preferences of a particular client or in-house attorney may already be incorporated into the document from those first two or three mouse clicks.

A few more clicks of the mouse gets me access to a library of client-specific, frequently-used drawings and drawing descriptions.  In the past, building the skeleton of a patent application meant searching for a previously drafted application that described similar subject matter, skimming the application for relevant language and/or drawings, copying the relevant material, pasting it into the new application, changing reference numbers to match the new figures, and removing material specific to the application from which I copied the material.  That process was only slightly more efficient than writing the entire application from scratch.  Now, a few clicks and I’m off and running.

A click here and a click there is all that is required to cause mirrored claim sets directed to statutory subject matter classes of my choice to appear in the document.  Just as easily, I can cause preliminary descriptions of flow charts to populate the document.  Summary paragraphs and an abstract also are mere mouse clicks away.  Before I even place my fingers on the keyboard, Patent Draftr may have prepared more than half the document for me.

I was skeptical at first, but have come to be a believer in “the tools.”  They fit seamlessly within the Harrity workflow to make my life infinitely easier than the days of old.  But I am not the only one that benefits from the “the tools” and the system in which they are employed.  Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries are the clients.  By automating portions of the patent application preparation process that tend to be otherwise menial tasks, “the tools” allow me to focus my time on the most important aspects of the application preparation – the aspects for which my skills and experience are most useful – understanding the invention, drafting the claims, and carefully describing the details of the invention.  The results: (1) a high quality, valuable, and thorough patent application; and (2) a stress-free patent attorney that can spend the evening resting and looking forward to doing it all over again the next day.

 

 

Shawn Lillemo Co-Presents “The Tech-Enhanced Law Firm” at Legal Marketing Association (LMA) P3 – Virtual Experience

Harrity’s Software Product Manager Shawn Lillemo was recently featured in the Legal Marketing Association (LMA)’s P3 – The Virtual Experience. Shawn co-presented “The Tech-Enhanced Law Firm: Developing Custom Solutions to Supercharge Your Legal Professionals” with Amy Monaghan of Perkins Coie.

The session covered how to build an “unfair” competitive advantage, improve firm efficiency, and provide better client services using custom software solutions, such as Harrity’s proprietary patent drafting automation software, amongst other Harrity and Perkins Coie developments.

“The Tech Enhanced Law Firm” presentation included the following topics:

  1. Legal Innovation – What Asteroid?
  2. Rise of the Robots
  3. Making Legal Superheroes
  4. Sustainable Innovation

R. Amani Smathers, Senior Practice Innovations Specialist at Chapman and Cutler LLP, provided the following feedback regarding the presentation:

“Shawn, your anecdote about the US/European patent filing formats was one of the best examples I’ve heard of the importance of asking ‘why,’ reexamining assumptions, and that sometimes the best solution is ‘no-sourcing’—determining the work doesn’t need to be done by any resource (human or automated) at all.

I also appreciated that in mentioning being willing to fail, you both recognized that we operate in organizations that typically have a lower risk appetite.  So yes, be willing to fail fast—but fail ‘safe.’  Fail small and smart, and internalize your lessons learned.  I think those points often get lost in the popular ‘fail fast’ mantra, which originated in an industry with a higher risk tolerance.”

For more information regarding Harrity’s software, and to watch Shawn’s Automation Drafting Tools Presentation at IPO’s 2019 Annual Meeting, visit our Automation Page.

 

Harrity Demos Patent Automation Software at IP Summit

SALT LAKE CITY (February 2020) Shawn Lillemo, Harrity’s Software Product Manager and IP attorney, was featured as a panelist and presenter at the 2020 Utah IP Summit last Friday. Shawn led the discussion on the use of automation to improve speed and quality in patent application drafting. The presentation included a demo of one of the Harrity Tools, an in-house automation software developed by Shawn and his team and currently used by Harrity attorneys to reduce errors and time spent on applications.

“The right automation tools can provide application drafters with extra time that can be spent fleshing out additional details of the invention, exploring alternative embodiments, and telling a good story about how the invention solves a technical problem,” stated Shawn on the significance of automation in the patent & legal fields.

In the short time since its launch, the use of Harrity Tools has substantially improved the efficiency of Harrity’s drafting attorneys and has led to a notable increase in the amount of applications drafted and obtained by the firm. To learn more about application drafting automation and other Harrity Tools, visit https://harrityllp.com/services/patent-automation/.

 

Improving Speed and Quality Using Automation for Patent Application Drafting

Our own Shawn Lillemo writes about how the right automation tools can provide application drafters with extra time that can be spent fleshing out additional details of the invention, exploring alternative embodiments, and telling a good story about how the invention solves a technical problem.  Read more on IPWatchdog.com.

Watch Shawn’s IPO Presentation on Patent Drafting Automation below!