Tom Otterlee

At Rowan, there’s nothing we like more than talking with our clients. We sat down with Tom Otterlee, one of our longest customers, to discuss his experience with Rowan Patents and how far that product has come since he started using it almost 10 years ago.

Tom serves as Senior Counsel and works within a global technology company to figure out what to patent, how many patents to file, the general strategy of IP, and other topics like licensing and agreements. He also drafts patents, and despite the many other tasks he undertakes for his company, he continues to draft as many applications as time permits.

Before Rowan, Tom used Word and several different tools for drawings. He was frustrated with the available drawing tools because they never allowed him to insert the reference numbers as required by the USPTO. Instead, they only focused on drawings such as flowcharts or schematics while he was preparing mechanical applications. As a result, he ultimately needed a draftsperson to assist him. He found there were no tools specifically designed for drafting patent applications.

Tom was introduced to Rowan Patents, then TurboPatent, in its early days, He estimates this was 10 years ago, and he didn’t find it all that useful on his first try. It had what he sees as the problem of many of the tools coming out today – a focus only on drawings that are flowcharts or schematics, while he was doing mechanical applications. He worked with the Rowan team, who supported him to learn how to insert a mechanical drawing and use Rowan to add the numberings. Then he saw how it could help him.

Over the years Tom has used Rowan, he’s seen many positive changes. He comments that the pace of development, especially in the last few years, has accelerated tremendously. Tom is a member of Rowan’s user group, and he’s been thrilled at the many new developments like flexible numbering and the Response Writer within the Prosecution module.

When introducing Rowan to new users, Tom often hears the comment that they do not need a tool to write applications. Tom always agrees but says this tool will help reduce errors and will reduce your efforts on the more tedious aspects of patent drafting. After these new users use the system on 3 or 4 applications, they started to pick it up and realize it does help them. Often, they tell him they can’t imagine working without it. Tom plays an active role in assisting others in learning the benefits of Rowan’s integrated drafting environment.

While Tom feels that his company benefits from the time savings that come from their use of Rowan Patents, the benefit he focuses on the most is the improved quality of their applications. If, down the road, a patent owner wants to enforce their asset, it needs to be perfect. Even a typo can make a difference. Tom sees far fewer 112/clarity errors in their applications. And his inventors like reviewing the applications drafted in Rowan Patents because those applications have the structure, flow, and order that engineers like. So it helps them too.

The improvements over the last three years have been unbelievable.

Tom Otterlee, Senior Counsel for a global technology company