By Michael J Foycik Jr. 

Why need a patent attorney for a crowdfunding effort?  Would entrepreneurs benefit?  Will it help you raise funds?  Good questions!

I learned answers to those and other questions while helping a record-setting startup raise funds on a crowdfunding site.  It seems to matter to investors, donors, and others.  Let's see why.

The public – donors, investors, and early adopters – may have concerns:  can they be sure your product or service does not infringe any patents?  Can they be sure you're protected and that no competitor can take away your rights?  Only a patent attorney can help with that.  Having a patent attorney's help – and listing the patent attorney on your web site as an advisor – can impress investors and donors.

The above points do not even mention patentability, which can be very important.  The investing public will wonder if your startup is taking steps to protect its patent rights, both in the US and in foreign countries.  Having a patent attorney as an advisor can be reassuring to the investing public, and helps them feel confident your startup is properly advised on these points.

Other key questions: do the entrepreneurs need a Utility patent application or a Design patent application?  Would a trademark help?  What about international (foreign) patent applications?  Is having a right-to-use study beneficial?  Will trade secret protection work, and if so how can it be secured?

Your patent attorney should – in addition to patents - be able to help you secure rights using trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights.  Not all patent attorneys have sufficient experience with these types of items.  Courtroom experience helps, too – you'll want to know the risks and rewards, not to mention costs.

And, negotiations are important.  Should you sign that NDA?  A patent attorney can help keep entrepreneurs from unknowingly losing their rights.

The author is a patent attorney who helps clients with startups on crowdfunding sites, including the startup which set a fundraising record on Kickstarter. The author has over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at