It varies from attorney to attorney. Some are willing to sit with a novice with no prior experience in business or access to finance and listen to an "idea" at no charge. Ideas alone cannot be protected so you better arrive with something more.
Others will ask a summary of what you want to discuss and your objectives in consulting an attorney. Whatever you answer will be covered by attorney client privilege, whether or not you retain the attorney.
Charges: attorneys often have fixed fees for non-adversarial registrations. Otherwise they charge by the hour which varies greatly by experience, expertise and location.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
The cost of hiring an IP lawyer will vary greatly as my colleague noted.
For example, there are several services my firm provides on a flat fee basis, such as tradmark clearance and filing or copyright registration. Many firms require a retainer to be deposited upfront and bill on an hourly basis.
There are many excellent attorneys with profiles here on Avvo and most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult. So I would reach out to several and get a good sense of who they are and what their cost struture is.
The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. Feel free to call for a free phone consultation; your inquiries are always welcome: CONTACT: 866-871-8655 Support@LanternLegal.com DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.
There is no way to answer this question, because cost depends on many factors. Some attorneys will handle simple matters for flat fees, such as trademark searches and applications. Some firms will prepare and prosecute provisional and utility patent applications for flat fees although most experienced patent attorneys charge by the hour. Flat fees are attractive sometimes, but there is truth to the saying that "you get what you pay for". The mistake most start-up business entrepreneurs make is believing that they can successfully set up their business by retaining counsel on a task-basis (i.e., fee for each job, such as preparing a contract, trademark application, or patent application). This ignores the need of small businesses for comprehensive counseling regarding their intellectual property and business law strategies---laying the proper foundation is critical for any company. Laying the proper legal foundation is also expensive---most successful businesses retain counsel who charge hourly rates rather than fixed fees because the scope of work cannot usually be predicted in advance. Beware of flat fees and other such bargains---cheap is not necessarily what you want here.
For most website business, your relationship with an IP attorney will be on-going. Rates can be hourly or flat fees depending on the task and the attorney. In my firm, virtually all intellectual property legal services we provide to startups are structured as flat-fees allowing entrepreneurs to budget legal costs. What you need is an intellectual property protection strategy consultation and follow-up memo, coupled with a valid confidentiality agreement and consultation on to you use it. You may also benefit from a business plan if you don't have one.
I focus specifically in helping clients, particularly websites and mobile applications, turn "ideas" into proprietary businesses, and strategize with them on comprehensive intellectual property protection strategy, or competitive barrier strategy, as they build their business and develop copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets, and sometimes share confidential information with developers, marketers, and investors.
Feel free to contact my office to confidentially discuss your business, the stage of development, the target market, and its unique features.
If you have a question about this post or would like to schedule a free consultation with David N. Sharifi, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.techandmedialaw.com. Main Phone: 310-751-0181. This content is a discussion of legal issues and general information; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such without seeking professional legal counsel. Reading the content does not create an attorney-client relationship.