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.
Harrity & Harrity’s Shawn Lillemo has been named as a 2020 Intellectual Property Trailblazer by the National Law Journal, which recognizes professionals who have moved the needle in the legal industry.
The publication says the following regarding Shawn’s contribution to legal technology:
Pioneer Spirit Launching his intellectual property career, Shawn Lillemo served as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In 2018, Lillemo jumped at the opportunity to join boutique patent firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP. “Harrity operates more like a Silicon Valley start-up than a traditional law firm — with a passion to be on the cutting-edge of innovation — in an industry which otherwise hadn’t changed much in a hundred years.”
Trails Blazed Leveraging his skills as a software product manager, Lillemo created several products that allow attorneys to focus more of their time on substantively improving the quality of patents instead of on the menial tasks that can be automated. Patent Draftr gives attorneys a suite of drafting tools that can “turn a 40-hour task into a 10-hour task.” Patent Searchr gives attorneys a state-of-the-art search engine for private patent portfolios so attorneys can find private and pending patent applications. Lillemo’s Patent Sortr software replaces the labor-intensive task of creating patent asset taxonomies. Now asset managers can know in real-time what patent assets they have in any given patent landscape. “Each product was created with a simple goal: we want to allow our lawyers to be heroes to their clients and then go home. It’s doable if you automate as much as you can.” Harrity’s innovative approach to exceptional client services, led largely by Lillemo, landed the firm the 2020 American Legal Technology Award in the Law Firm category.
Future Explorations “We are on the cusp of many disruptive technologies transforming the way patent attorneys perform their work,” Lillemo believes, “including AI, blockchain distributed everything, and augmented reality. I want to move Harrity and our clients to the front edge of the adoption curve in a work paradigm shift as significant as the industrial revolution.”
Harrity & Harrity has won the 2020 American Legal Technology Award for the Law Firm category.
For its inaugural awards ceremony, American Legal Technology received over 180 nominations for consideration in 8 categories. Twenty legal industry expert judges chose 3 finalists for each category, announcing winners over video streams from September 7 – September 16.
Harrity was recognized as the winner of the law firm category on September 11, being described as ‘a law firm that utilizes technology to exceed client expectations in a significant, measurable way.’
Watch the award announcement here:
The mission of the American Legal Technology Awards, according to americanlegaltechnology.com, is:
To hold up examples of excellence in creative innovation and technology in the legal industry for the purposes of (1) expanding our understanding of what is possible, (2) encouraging a virtuous cycle of improvement, and (3) creating a more just society.
About Harrity & Harrity, LLP
Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.
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/.