We recently put a shed in our backyard and decided to do it ourselves. My wife loves working outdoors and I enjoy putting things together and am pretty handy. But, as is true for any process you have never done before, we quickly realized there were several steps and things to do along the way that we hadn’t factored into the simple task of ‘putting up a shed’.
Our first lesson was understanding that we had to prepare the ground: We had to research how to level, what materials were necessary and their cost, what dirt would best serve our purpose (we need to buy dirt?!), we spoke to different suppliers to figure out the best material that met our budget that we could handle working with. In the end, we completed it, it looks good, it serves its purpose, and our bikes are inside and finally off the porch…but the ground is not 100% level, the door drags, and a hurricane may or may not pick it up and take it away next hurricane season.
Like with home renovation, for many legal services people often opt for DIY. And similarly, while success is possible, you usually won’t get the ideal outcome and there is a good chance you fail or, more likely, make a costly mistake that will come back to haunt you at a later date.
Some of the most common mistakes I see made by individuals or attorneys with little experience in intellectual property are errors that can be enough to invalidate a registration. In this way, you may not even know you made a mistake until you go to enforce the rights you think you have or another seeks to invalidate your registration based on a mistake.
So, let’s circle back to the “why.” Why are you choosing to go it alone?
- Do you want fast protection so that others can’t steal your idea or branding? Maybe you think that working with a lawyer will slow you down and you’d rather file to protect your IP quickly online. Sounds smart, but what will really slow you down is a denial or office action from the USPTO that could set your application back for months, even years. Worse, if not cleared for use you could receive a cease and desist letter alleging infringement. Working with an attorney is actually an efficient way to make sure you don’t infringe on another’s rights and that you’ve had a Comprehensive Search conducted and that thereafter the application is filed properly and in a timely manner.
- Are you worried that it will cost too much? Our law firm does not charge for initial meetings. This is our opportunity to first ask and answer questions and understand what it is we will each gain by working together We are totally transparent about the fees and process, and once you choose to work with us, we always provide all the information necessary to help you make informed decisions every step of the way.
- Do you think you can handle it just fine on your own? That’s okay…we understand that some businesses will inevitably file for trademarks on their own. As such, I’ve started putting together an IP Basics video series to help DIYers avoid some of the basic mistakes I often see made. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZ6sbA9f8YB42jZPigXfaDJthPNmkoXfL Of course if you have any questions after watching my video series, please reach out.
Even if you are leaning towards “DIY” legal options, I’d encourage you to schedule an appointment to talk with us first. At the very least, you’ll leave our time together with confidence about your decisions and your questions answered so that you know whether you are (or aren’t) on the right track. To schedule a consultation, simply contact our Intellectual Property law firm at (888) 666-0062.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.