How Much Time Can You Really Save Using Automation?

Ben, Founder and CEO of Patent Theory, Aug. 11, 2020

Automation may seem like something you can easily do manually, but can you save enough time to make this worthwhile?

If you have played around with Patent Theory's automation tool, or even read a bit about automation on the article, "How Does Automation Work for Patent Drafting?", you may be thinking that this looks kind of interesting, but does it really save me that much time? To answer that question, let's try and break down the work that is automated by Patent Theory, and itemize estimates for time spent.

First, let's look at claim mirroring. After you write your first claim set, many times, a practitioner will mirror that claim into at least one but normally two additional claim sets. That claim mirroring is usually done by copying the original claim set, pasting into a subsequent claim set, and then changing the wording. For example, if the first claim set is a method claim, the wording may be converted into "An apparatus, comprising: a memory unit; one or more processors configured to carry out operations comprising:" with method steps following. However, the practitioner will also need to convert the verb forms as method steps use the gerund form of a verb (i.e., "determining") and the apparatus uses the infinitive form of the verb (i.e., "determine"). This may be because the apparatus is meant to read on a device that isn't actually operating, but something that is designed to read on the invention "off the shelf." There may be other reasons for changing verb endings, but suffice it to say that this manual work takes some time. Also, it increases the chances of human error.

For a time estimate of claim mirroring, let's say it takes the practitioner about 10 minutes to mirror their claims. By contrast, Patent Theory will do this in seconds, and in real-time. Just select the types of claims that you would like to see your input claim mirrored into and Patent Theory produces these results instantly.

Second, let's take a look at the Abstract. The Abstract section is supposed to be representation of what is in your independent claims, written out in paragraph form, with perhaps some minor adjustments to the language. Typically a practitioner will copy and paste one of their independent claims, and remove the semicolons, perhaps the word "comprising," and will try to make the language readable. Not too much effort here intellectually. However, there is some time spent and, again, more chance for introducing human errors.

Let's say that creating the abstract takes 5 minutes. In contrast, Patent Theory will do this step in real time within seconds pulling the language from the independent claims, the types of independent claims, and using a field called "patent purpose" that is either derived from the preamble or prompted to be received from the user, your abstract will be done before you have a chance to grab a stopwatch.

Already, you've saved 15 minutes, more or less. If an average billing rate for an attorney is $300/hr, this 15 minutes is legitimately worth $75. And, Patent Theory doesn't just stop there.

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Patent Theory will also automate the Title, the Field of the Disclosure, the Summary section, a portion of the Brief Description of the Figures, some basic Figures, and a good portion of the Detailed Description. Let's set up estimates for each:

  • Title (2 minutes)
  • Field of the Disclosure (3 minutes)
  • Summary (30minutes)
  • Brief Description portion (12 minutes)
  • Figures (45 minutes)
  • Detailed Description (45 minutes - 60 minutes)

Total Estimated Time Savings: 137-152 minutes. At $300 an hour, this is well over $600 of billable hours saved, per application!

These estimates can vary from application to application, and from practitioner to practitioner. However, when you take into account how all of the details in each of these fields are worked out automatically by Patent Theory, you may find that these estimates are low.

For example, let's take the Figures. If you want to draft a flow diagram of the method steps you will need to: 1) draw a box, 2) insert language and change verb tense, 3) copy and paste the box for the second step, 4) insert language and change verb tense, 5) number each of the boxes, 6) draw arrows between each of the boxes representing a method step, 7) change numbering if you decide you want your method figure to come later or earlier. And, this is just the method figures. For the system figure, you will need to do many of the steps above, modified for the system figure.

Assuming you've done everything perfectly, this may be all. However, if you have mislabeled one of the parts with the wrong number, you may need to go back and look for similar mistakes through the specification. In comparison, Patent Theory, by design, should never have these sorts of human errors. Further, the figures are created within seconds, and if you want to change the numbering, just make that selection in the associated template.

Another example is the Summary section. Summary sections can vary based on the practitioner, the client, and the jurisdiction. For example, in Europe, it is common to see all of your claims, both independent claims as well as dependent claims, written out in the Summary section. Doing this section manually, especially with a large claim set, can be a large time sink. In addition, because it is not intellectually rigorous, more time is wasted that could be spent on the value-adding work.

By contrast, Patent Theory will take all of your claims and write them into sentence form within seconds. If you only want to have the independent claims, deleting the auto-generated portions related to the dependent claims is easy enough. But, with Patent Theory, you will make sure you can provide support the way you need it in the Summary section without having to manually copy and paste these sections on your own.

So, the real answer to the question of how much time automation saves is a lot! As you become more and more adept at using automation, you will find even more areas where you can maximize your output. And keep in mind that not only are you saving time by not spending hours on intellectually easier work, but you will also have more time to spend on the aspects of your practice that take intellectual heavy lifting to perform.

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