February 25th, 2009

edog think

a sneaky perk

I'm part of a pretty small subgroup of lawyers. Not a lot work in intellectual property, and even fewer practice patent law. For example, of the approximately 1.2 million in the US, there are currently only about 28,000 that are registered to to do patent work -- less than 2-1/2%.

Because all of us are publicly listed, we get on the mailing lists of just about every IP-focused publication out there. I receive maybe about ten monthly publications every month, all of them unsolicited. (I'm sure this is the case in many professions.)

The weird thing is when they send me an invoice to renew my subscription. I'm looking at one right now (from "IP Law & Business") urging me to renew at a special annual rate of $199.

It's a decent publication, but there's not a lot of focus on legal developments in it. Interviews with CEOs and high-profile IP entrepreneurs. Glossy cover. Not too technical. Half of it's advertising. And the average issue is maybe 60 pages, max. I might consider paying $20 for a subscription, but not a couple hundred.

Thing is, this is maybe the 3rd invoice for this publication that I've received over the past 2 years. If I ignore it, like I have the previous ones, I'll keep receiving issues for free, likely indefinitely.

The reason is that the revenue streams from these publications likely rely more on advertising than subscriptions, and to sell their advertising space, they make claims that their circulation includes, among other groups, every patent attorney in the U.S. This means comped subscriptions for us.

Which is all well and good. The thing that chaps me, however, is the sneaky way it's done. If you want to comp me in order to legitimize your circulation stats so you can more effectively run ads, that's cool, and thanks. But don't try to rip me off.