In the world of intellectual property, there are many ways that an infringement lawsuit is brought forth. With regards to all three regimes of intellectual property—patents, copyright, and trademarks—lawsuits are brought primarily on the notion of infringement. Infringement occurs when someone makes use of the work without the individual’s consent.
Patents protect inventions; copyright protects works of creative expression, and trademarks protect brands. Intellectual property lawyers, much like other lawyers in different practice areas, are paid in a specific manner.
Lawyers are paid in many different fashions. One typical fee structure is called a retainer fee. Some IP attorneys prefer this form of payment. Retainer fee is an advance payment that represents a portion of what the client will owe for services. Any amount that does not go towards the legal representation or towards litigation costs will be returned to the client. Attorneys like this because they will be paid upfront knowing very well that their client had paid them and they can comfortably proceed with the representation.
One other popular option is contingency fee basis. Under this payment option, the attorney will be paid depending on how the case turns out. Put simply, if the case is ruled in favor of the client, the attorney will be paid; otherwise not. Attorneys, and in particular IP attorneys, are not ardent supporters of this fee structure. Their countless hours spent working on a case will be all for naught if they lose the case. With patent litigation, there is a high chance of losing the case due to the nature of the patent legal system. Hence, it is unlikely for IP attorneys to submit to this fee structure.
There are other such payment models as well, such as a flat fee. Moreover, the complexity of the case will further determine client costs. For example, a patent litigation case will likely take far longer to resolve than a basic trademark prosecution. A patent is comprised of many layers of complex analysis of the individual elements, whereas a trademark is just a registered mark which does not require the same intense level of analysis. The fee structure can also vary depending on where the suit takes place.
Choosing The Right Attorney
It would be wise to seek out counsel accordingly.You want one who can best suit your particular needs. Time and money will factor into your eventual choice, but level of expertise and quality representation should not be overlooked. Taking caution as to who is the right legal representative can be crucial to the way the case turns out. Each facet of the intellectual property space requires careful scrutiny and not every IP attorney is qualified to be involved in all three regimes of the intellectual property framework.