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How to engage an attorney

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A trade marks or patent attorney can help you apply for a new intellectual property (IP) right. By engaging an IP attorney to help, you can increase your application's chances of success.

How to find an attorney

You can find an attorney by:

  • Using our directory to find a registered patent or trade marks attorney in your area
  • Seeking recommendations from other business owners or your industry association.

When looking for an attorney consider their experience and area of expertise. This is especially relevant for patents, where it's important to find an attorney who understands your field or specific technology.

You can usually find details about an attorney's qualifications and fields of experience on their website.

Find an attorney

What to consider when choosing an attorney

Factors to consider when selecting an attorney include:

  • Areas of expertise and industry knowledge
  • Level of experience
  • Cost and fee structure
  • How well you are able to communicate with the attorney
  • Whether the attorney has professional indemnity (PI) insurance.

How much does an attorney charge?

Trade marks and patent attorney costs vary significantly depending on the work you require and how specialised or complex it is. Fee structures also vary.

Costs might include:

  • Being charged per hour or a flat rate
  • An upfront payment

Depending on the attorney or firm, you may be able to use a payment plan.

You can expect an average fee of:

  • $400-700 per hour for a patent attorney
  • $1,000-2,000 total for a trade marks attorney to file and register a single trade mark in one or two classes.

Costs can increase significantly, if:

  • Your application is objected to by the IP office
  • Your application is opposed by third parties
  • You file in other countries.

An attorney should always give you:

  • An estimate of how much the work will cost
  • The procedures and timing to do the work.

Some attorneys offer a free consultation to assess what services you need and an estimate of costs. Ask about this option before you agree to meet.

How to prepare for meeting with your attorney

To get the most out of your first meeting with your attorney, and reduce the fees if your first consultation is not free, it helps to prepare beforehand.

Before the meeting, you should prepare:

  • An explanation of your business and how your invention, idea, or brand fits into your business
  • A plan to commercialise your idea, product or brand
  • Where you intend to market your product, business or brand
  • A list of who your main competitors are
  • Whether you intend to license your product or brand
  • If you are considering patent protection for an invention, a description of:
    • How your invention works
    • The problem it is trying to solve
    • What's inventive about it and how it differs from other products
    • Whether you have disclosed your invention to anyone else
    • Whether you are aware of any similar products on the market or similar patents.

Give your attorney as much information as you can about your business, idea or invention so that they can give you the best advice.

IP attorneys are bound by a Code of Conduct. They must keep any information you disclose confidential and put your interests ahead of their own.