Tooling Up or Tooling Down: The Merits of Turnkey Solutions Over Direct Use of AI Drafting Tools

Ian Schick
22 June 2023


The promise of generative AI tools for patent attorneys presents an alluring proposition - enhanced efficiency, reduced workload, and modernized practices. However, an underappreciated aspect of this transition is the shifting role of the attorney from a legal professional to a tool operator, which has far-reaching implications for the quality of service and the value proposition to clients.

The use of AI tools necessitates a certain level of technical proficiency. Patent attorneys are legal experts, trained to meticulously analyze complex technical information, craft comprehensive patent applications, and navigate the intricate landscape of patent law. When AI tools enter the picture, they are suddenly required to assume a new role—that of a tool operator. This not only demands a significant investment of time and resources into learning and adapting to the technology but also diverts their focus from their core legal tasks. 

In theory, the more an attorney uses an AI tool, the more proficient they become. However, the reality is more complicated. The AI’s ability to generate high-quality patent applications is heavily dependent on how well the attorney can operate and navigate the tool. This creates an imbalance in productivity, with attorneys spending disproportionate amounts of time operating the tool rather than focusing on their core legal tasks. 

Even once they have mastered the tool, attorneys are still left with the responsibility of maintaining and troubleshooting it. In an industry where time is a precious commodity, the additional administrative burden of handling complex technology can significantly impact an attorney’s productivity and focus. This is in sharp contrast to their traditional roles, where their skills and expertise are dedicated to the nuances of patent law.

Moreover, the use of AI tools by non-experts or less tech-savvy attorneys can lead to an even higher margin of error and inefficiency. Attorneys may misuse or misunderstand the tool, resulting in inaccurate patent applications, thereby requiring additional time and resources to rectify.

On the other hand, turnkey solutions offered by trusted AI service providers present a compelling alternative. These services take the responsibility of operating, maintaining, and updating the AI tools off the attorneys’ shoulders, enabling them to concentrate on the quintessentially human elements of their practice.

In this setup, AI technicians with a deep understanding of both the technology and patent law ensure the smooth running of the AI system. They are the primary operators of the tool, effectively eliminating the learning curve for attorneys and ensuring a higher degree of accuracy in the generation of patent applications.

The output quality is another standout benefit of turnkey solutions. Given that AI experts manage them, the documents produced are consistently high in quality and significantly less prone to errors. This robustness and reliability provide attorneys with the confidence to focus on their highest value-added tasks, such as strategic counseling, tailoring claims, and patent prosecution, which require their irreplaceable human touch and legal acumen.

In essence, turnkey solutions provide law firms with the best of both worlds. They harness the power of AI to streamline and enhance patent application drafting while freeing up attorneys to devote their time and expertise to the areas where they add the most value—the strategic, human-centric aspects of patent law. This model presents a sustainable and effective way for in-house patent professionals and their outside counsel to adapt to the digital revolution in patent practice without compromising on their core strengths and service quality.

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