It’s the best policy.
The 1990 movie Crazy People is about an advertising executive who gets sent to a psychiatric hospital for creating honest ads. By ignoring “the rules,” he creates brutally honest – and effective – advertisements. Like the one for Volvo: “Boxy but good.”
When prospective clients ask what makes Clock Tower Law Group different from other firms, I tell them that we give advice that we’d like to hear. That sometimes we advise people not to hire us because their limited funds would be better spent (in our opinion) on marketing, product development, sales, or whatever their company’s biggest need might be.
So I have no problem telling clients and prospective clients that patents are not always their best option, that sometimes trade secrets are preferable to patents, and that even if patents are the preferred strategy, they can save money by filing patents themselves.
Our only tool isn’t a hammer, so we don’t treat every problem like a nail. That said, we do make our living from filing patents and trademarks. But we don’t want to push every prospective client to a solution simply because we offer it. We want the right solution for the right client. Because of this stance, we often find prospective clients trying to sell us on them. Which can be awkward. But maybe that’s the way it should be. Ours is not the right firm for every company, but we’re a good choice for many companies (especially early stage companies, since many IP decisions need to be made early in a company’s life).
This may also explain why I never pursued a career in politics, despite being convinced (in college) that politics was where I was headed. (I have never been enrolled in any political party but I have voted in every election. I have picked some presidential winners and losers – and I’m not necessarily referring to who was elected.)
Does honesty make me crazy? Possibly.