Intellectual Property. Trademark Search.

If you are starting a new business, developing a new brand for an existing business, or creating content as part of a series, then you just might want to have a conversation with a competent Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer, first.

You can go it alone (www.uspto.gov); you can be misled by the word “cheap”, or you can invest some of the money you spend on lattes, cocktails, cigarettes, shoes, and iTunes and get real help. One thing to be aware of is that not all advice is created equal, and not all lawyers are competent to render IP advice. For example, “seeming” legal advice from your cousin or your best friend who is in law school is not necessarily the way to go. Why not? Because you get what you pay for.  Plus that law student or unlicensed attorney who is dispensing legal advice cannot be held liable for giving you unsubstantiated or inaccurate advice.  And those TV Ads for companies that say they can do everything for only a buck sixty-nine, well listen up—cheap is not always better.
This week a potential client came to me because the alleged lawyer she hired through a website that advertises on television was unable and unwilling to finish the job—because he is not a lawyer. She, like so many others, was lured into believing that she could get a competent lawyer to do a comprehensive federal and state trademark search for only $200.  Plus, she assumed that her payment would include having a lawyer analyze the search report and then discuss their recommendations with her. She was shocked to discover otherwise.  She did get a search report and received all 1000+ pages in the mail. But when she called the company to ask what she was supposed to do with it, they said, “For an additional $500 we can have a lawyer review the search report and discuss it with you.”
Like so many others she discovered after the fact was the small print on the TV AD says, “Communications between you and [the company] are protected by our Privacy Statement but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. [Company] provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”
Be careful what you pay for because you will likely get what you pay for. If you want real lawyer work, then hire a real lawyer.
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter page, and in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

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