I would like to file a lawsuit against an organization that stole my intellectual property. I don't have the money to pay an attorney and I'm wondering if I can do it on my own. Can I hire an attorney just to coach me and to help me in the process? Let's say I file on my own, can I change my mind later and hire a lawyer? Is there any way I can file a lawsuit and reduce my expenses? Thanks for your help.
If whatever "intellectual property" you think has been infringed is owned by a company you formed through which you do business then, no, you may not represent that company in court. If, however, you personally own the "intellectual property" then you have the right to represent yourself in court.
BTW: The phrase "intellectual property" in your question is meaningless unless the particular property is identified. Just like the word "color" is meaningless unless the particular color is identified.
You have nearly ZERO chance of prevailing in a lawsuit that you file yourself. In fact, if you do file the suit youself you decrease your odds of persuading the other side to sign over to you a settlement check. The other side knows that you will, either right out of the box or ultimately, really mess up the matter substantively and procedurally. Even if the other side is clearly liable to you it will simply wait for your case to self-destruct --- and when it does you CANNOT sue that party again based on the same facts and claims for which you originally sued it. So they win. Forever.
As for hiring a litigator to simply help out but not represent you, no, that does not happen. That attorney would be duty bound to provide you with sufficient advice and assistance so that you do not harm yourself during the lawsuit -- and that would require taking over from you completely. You could, of course, file on your own and then hire a litigator later. But by then the odds are very, very high that you've already sunk the ship even if you don't know it yet.
The above response is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
You have the right to represent yourself in a copyright proceeding, but you should seriously evaluate the risks of doing so. If such an organization has substantial financial resources, it may increasingly reduce your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
You may want to find a qualified intellectual property attorney who will take your case on a contingency basis, meaning that they will not charges you legal fees during the proceeding and will only take a percentage of any potential award. Going through this search process will also help you to determine the strengths of your case as well. Good luck!
Not it the other party has a lawyer and you want to win. That would be like fighting cancer on your own without a doctor. It would be like fighting the Mafia without police help. It would be like fighting al Qaeda on your own without the military.
When you go into battle you want to have a clear advantage. You need the Big weapons on your side taking aim at your enemy, and not go in with pistol fire when the other side will have cannons and missiles.
You won't find contingent fee attorneys that will front all the expense, Contingent fee is just what it means; contingent as to FEES only.You will still pay expenses, and they are usually staggering. Figure about $50K at a minimum and perhaps ten times that in a big case.
Your better approach may be to hire an attorney to try to negotiate a license at a reasonable fee from the other party under suitable terms. That way both sides win. Licensing gives the chance for both sides to "enlarge the pie" so there is more total money, perhaps more even when split than either could make alone. It's not likely you can do that licensing yourself because you don't know customary terms, all the options that can be used, and because you are (whether you believe it or not) just too emotionally invested in this and will likely just irritate and either end up in litigation or scare off the other side so they take their money and leave you with none.
If you have doubts about what I am saying call or email and I can explain how I have done it a hundred times. Infringement can present opportunities as well as problems. It is smart business to look at both.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
Some additional thoughts: 1. You need an attorney to evaluate what the case is worth, either for free or for a modest flat fee. 2. If the money damages aren't high enough to make it worth investing the money in a lawsuit, then it's not worth pursuing (with or without a lawyer). 3. A lawyer can't just "coach you" because, in general, we can't represent someone on a limited basis -- in most states, legal representation is all or nothing.
This comment is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and is posted for informational purposes only. I am not your attorney; you are not my client. Both you and any other person reading this comment SHOULD NOT RELY UPON this comment. Regardless of the information provided in this comment, any reader of this comment should CONSULT AN ATTORNEY to get the legal advice you are seeking.
Attorney Ballard made an important point. An individual may represent him or herself in federal court, a business may not. You need an attorney
The law office of Anders Ferrington 601-316-8428 practices state wide. In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but instead need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice.
All my colleagues have provided you with scholarly responses. Seeking relief from copyright infringement is a technical and cumbersome process that must be handled with care and skill. The law and procedure will be foreign to you, we as IP attorneys are experienced in this area of law and understand how to advocate for you. Consult with an intellectual property attorney who handles copyright litigation to evaluate your claim and advise you on the best course of action. As my colleague pointed out, it may not be a zero sum game, and a licensing agreement may be an option available to you.
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