Friday, January 17, 2014

How Do I Cut Costs in Trademark Litigation?

Dear Rich: I paid $4,000 in lawyer fees to file for a trademark and to send a cease and desist letter. At this point the law office wants to charge $10,000 that goes up to $80,000 to obtain an Injunctive relief or restraining order against a business that is infringing on my trademark (business name). Can you suggest any book or reference that I can use to proceed on filing with the court for a temporary injunctive relief by myself? Our book, Trademark: Legal Care for Your Business and Product Name explains how to file an application for federal trademark registration and explains what to expect when pursuing or defending a trademark lawsuit. But it won't tell you most of the essential details of managing a trademark lawsuit such as interpreting the federal rules of procedure, preparing interrogatories or filing a complaint. We don't know of any book for non-lawyers that does that although there are books written for practitioners. The truth is that trademark litigation may be too complex for pro-se parties to navigate.
Have you weighed your options? In trademark litigation -- where damages rarely cover the costs of litigation -- you have to be careful not to let emotional reasoning dominate your decision-making. Always keep in mind that lawyers love a client who fights because of "principle." We know it is anger-making to find another business using a similar name. But before you seek injunctive relief, speak with your attorney about the likelihood of success. If you're not satisfied with your attorney's answer -- it's evasive or unclear -- get a second opinion! Determine as best as possible what the impact of the other mark is on your business? Do you have actual customer confusion or lost sales? If not, proceed slowly. Is it possible to engage in trademark arbitration with the other party? That may save money and be less hassle. If you decide to continue with your attorney, here are 10 tips for minimizing costs (scroll down to "Keep it Cheap.")

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