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Last updated -October 7, 2016
|Filing A Federal Lawsuit|
The first thing you must consider is time. A federal lawsuit can take from 6 hours to settle to 4 years to conclusion, or longer.
And it can be a very frustrating 4 plus years. Most federal intellectual property lawsuits never go to trial but that doesn't mean they get settled quickly.
Time is an advatage to the corporation. But a limited advantage.
The second condiseration to consider is cost. The plus for you, if you are the plaintiff, is that most companies will not want to spend the money to defend an intellectual property lawsuit. If you are the defendant, they still do not want to spend the money beyond the intimidation factor of filing against you.
A typical filing, be it the original complaint [plaintiff] or a response to a lawsuit [defendant], costs a corporation a lot of money. Figure every corporate filing runs in excess of $5,000 in attorney fees. Every filing. Court appearances runs $300 an hour and up. As a pro se litigant, your costs are much lower and they know it. Often their bottom line, not including potential negative publicity, is more important than supporting their claims in court.
And sign up for PACER. Almost every federal court web site has a link to PACER. If you are going to fight back, and you shold, Pacer is a must. Get a PACER account and learn how to use it. In our experiences we've had lawyers twice not mail us what they filed with the court (we believe they did it on piurpose on purpose). Courts are pre-disposed to believe attorneys over pro se litigants. It is a bias that exists in almost every court, be it county, state or federal court. The courts deny it exists, but it does.
PACER allows you to monitor all filings and rulings at a minumum cost. Checking the docket runs 10 cents a page which is nothing compared to the security it provides. If you want to see a document, it's 10 cents a page as well.
Lawsuits are mainly about facts. It is important to understand the law, of course. You must be able to cite and discuss constitutional provisions, cases, and statutes and challenge any misstatements about the law that your opponents make. In the end, however, facts matter more than emotion. You can think of a lawsuit as a basketball or football game. While you need to understand the rules of the game – the law – you will win only if you score the most points. In a lawsuit, legal facts are points. Courts enforce the law; they do not enfore justice. They are different.
You will have to file in the Federal District Court nearest where you live if you can establish jurisdiction. If not, you have to file in the home district of your opponent. Jurisdiction depends on the law. If you can't make them come to your home court then there is little reason to file unless you have money and then why are you reading this? The cost of filing a federal lawsuit, as of 2016, is around $450.00. All motions and papers filed after the original complaint are free. Your other costs will be copying and mailing paperwork, travel expenses, and time lost from work.
We will be showing you examples of filings and explaining them to you. These are examples, guides, and nothing more. Every law suit, motion, answer, etc, is different and must be individually written and researched. We can show you what must be done but we cannot do it for you. Representing yourself in court takes time and commitment. It is not easy and it is not cut-and-paste. But, that said, it can be done and it gets easier as you go along. We post actual court documents you can use as templates. Use them as a starting point.
Before you begin working on your complaint, there are certain things you want to do in the way of setting up your computer, files to get, and forms you'll need.
What follows is a general format. There is no formal format. There are things that must be in the complaint. There are a lot of legal documents on the internet. Read them and study their presentation of pleadings such as centering, bolding, underlining, etc, and learn how others have done it. Select a style and follow it. You can always adjust it as you go. And, this outline does not cover everything you may encounter in court. Just the main points.
Anyone contemplating filing a federal lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment for non-trademark infringement, or non-copyright infringement, you should download this lawsuit, a lawsuit against Burberry in the Western District of Washington (Case No. 10-00850). Click herefor the full 17-page complaint in PDF format. As a court document, it is public domain so feel free to use it as you wish.
|Some information was drawn from Lexis Nexis and http://www.splcenter.org/pdf/static/pyhs_chapter_10.pdf. It is reproduced accurately not not always in its entirity because of its original audience.|
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