Blood, sweat, and tears went into the work you created, and now you’re ready to file for a trademark or copyright. After all, you want your intellectual property to have the protection a trademark or copyright can give it. And you may be wondering if you need an attorney to help you, or whether you can (or should) file yourself.
You’re not required to work with an attorney.
There is no rule or law that states that an attorney must file on your behalf. You can fill out the paperwork, submit the required information and documentation, and pay the fee to file for trademarks and copyrights. This may be a sensible route if you have a fairly simple copyright or trademark, and you don’t plan on licensing, assigning, or creating your own derivative works from the copyrighted or trademarked material.
…but how do you know you have a simple copyright or trademark filing? You might think it is simple, but without experience you might make mistakes that cause you to use value in your intellectual property or worse put others on notice of your infringing use which can open you to liability.
Why you may want to work with an attorney, anyway:
Part of what we do as attorneys is counsel our clients on how to extract the most value out of their intellectual property and help them avoid missteps. Since this is part of our process with all our clients every day, we can spot issues and opportunities that you might not. The point is that the value of the intellectual property is not solely dependent on the filing, but on your use of the intellectual property and having a correct filing that cover the use as broad as possible. In addition to the technical aspects of filing an application, attorneys can also assist you to develop a strategy to add as much value to your business as possible.
Whether you are filing one or multiple trademarks, planning on copyrighting multiple works of authorship, or if you’re dealing with a filing that could run into trouble, you may want to hire an attorney.
Do you anticipate any issues with your filing?
If you for instance want to trademark a logo you’ve been using for a while on your own but now it appears a national corporation has been using a similar trademark and causing confusion in the market, you may need an attorney’s advice and help while filing. There may also be different parts of your logo that need to be trademarked, and your attorney can advise you on how to protect both the literal and stylized elements so you are fully protected.
Are you looking for protection outside the United States?
Copyrights and trademarks granted in the United States only apply to use within the United States. For protection in other countries, you’d need to file for copyright or trademark in those countries. An attorney who focuses on international intellectual property rights can be especially helpful with filing and handling any problems along the way.
You may not need an attorney for the initial filing, but the counsel can help greatly.
There’s much more that goes into filing for a copyright or a trademark than filling out the paperwork, which can be complex. Suppose you have competition, or your would-be trademark potentially conflicts with something previously registered. Do you know how to check for that? Moreover, do you want to spend the hours of time going through this preliminary work yourself before ever even filing the application?
While you may not need an attorney to simply fill out the paperwork and send it in, there are many circumstantial reasons why you may want to consult an intellectual property lawyer. For example, having a relationship with an attorney from the start of your filing is beneficial because you may need to consult that same attorney later in case your copyright or trademark is violated, ensuring the paperwork is filled out correctly, or if you want to license your works or trademarks to someone else. Your intellectual property lawyer can assist you to extract the most value out of your intellectual property.
In most cases, scheduling an initial consultation with an intellectual property lawyer will cost you nothing but time, and you’ll at least leave that meeting feeling more confident of your decisions and options whether you work with an attorney or not.
If you think our IP attorneys can help you evaluate your situation and advise you on the best path forward, feel free to contact our office at 888-666-0062 and ask to schedule a consultation. We’d be happy to waive the consultation fee with the mention of this blog.
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.
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