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5 Questions to Ask an Intellectual Property Lawyer

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

Whether it's about patents, trademarks, or copyrights, an intellectual property lawyer can guide your business through the legal process.

But what types of questions do clients typically ask IP lawyers?

Here are five initial questions you may want to jot down before your consultation:

  1. What are your fees? Make sure to ask about fees, including the consultation. Get a breakdown of projected costs for different phases of the work. You'll want to balance the attorney's rate against his or her expertise. You might also want to consider having another attorney who charges a lesser rate to do portions of the job.
  2. Do you accept special payment arrangements? In addition to asking about fees, you should find out whether the attorney has flexible payment options. Inquire about whether, in lieu of hourly rate charges for attorney's fees, the attorney is amenable to alternate billing arrangements like fixed-fee arrangements.
  3. Do I need international protection? Getting an idea from the get-go about whether you need international IP protection is essential. That level of work entails a great deal of extra cost and logistical complexity.
  4. Should I pursue legal action? Consulting an IP attorney about potential legal action is a good idea because the answer will depend on your particular situation. In some cases, it makes sense to rigorously protect your IP rights. But other times, it's more sensible to let it go.
  5. How long will my case take? This question is a great lead into a number of issues, including: the anticipated scope of the legal work, the complexity of your case, and how various stages of the process work. You'll also want to know at what point your input or assistance might be required and generally how much involvement will be needed from you (and how involved you want to be).

Of course, this list of questions isn't exhaustive, but it's a good starting point to get the conversation going with your intellectual property attorney. Check out FindLaw's comprehensive Intellectual Property Center to learn more.

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