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  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
Edmund Burke

We are not lawyers nor have we received any significant assistance from any lawyers beyond our appeal to the Tenth District, which we won. The information presented here is based upon our experiences in federal court defending and prosecuting claims of trademark infringement and copyright infringement. It is presented to prepare you for what lies ahead should you end up in court. This outline is for those sellers who are thinking about representing themselves, pro se, in a court action. A business cannot represent themselves in federal court but individuals and unincorporated business can. The court rules and the federal rules are written by lawyers for lawyers. We try to put them into plain English here. These pages are not a complete analysis of everything that can happen. These are intended a guide and starting point. Always consult competent legal help.

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.

In order to file a federal lawsuit you must have standing. And you must have all parties involved. This is called joinder of parties.

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 here for 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 It is reproduced accurately not not always in its entirity because of its original audience.

Federal Lawsuits
Filing A Federal Lawsuit
Setting Up | Standing. | Joinder of Parties. | The Complaint | Their Answer | Default Judgment
F.R.C.P. 12(b) Motion | F.R.C.P. 12(f) Motion | Your Reply | Summary Judgment Motion | Affidavits | Time Extension

Defending Against A Federal Lawsuit
The Complaint | Your Answer | Denials | F.R.C.P. 12(b) Motion | F.R.C.P. 12(f) Motion | Affidavits | Time Extension

Articles | Cease and Desist Letters | Federal Court Cases | FAQs & Whines | Glossary | Hall Of Shame | Contributions

Corporate Lawyers
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eBay - Land The Game


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Parallel Imports   |   Post-sale Confusion   |   Puffery   |   Secondary Meaning   |   Subsequent Confusion   |   Trademark Abuse
Unauthorized Use   |   Unfair Competition   |   What is a Trademark?
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Derivative   |   The Digital Millennium Copyright Act   |   EULA   |   Fair Use   |   First Sale Doctrine   |   Product Description
Registration   |   Registration Denied   |   What is a Copyright?   |   What is not Copyrightable?
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Patterns Index   |   Profit   |   Quilting   |   Selvage   |   Stanford School of Law Case Outline
Tabberone Disclaimer   |   Trademark Extortion   |   Urban Myths   |   What To Do If You Are Veroed

Federal Court Cases
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Federal Statutes
Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. 5 | Digital Millenium Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. 12 | Lanham Act 15 U.S.C. 22

VeRO (Verified Right's Owner Program)
VeRO Commandments | VeRO-Verified Rights Owners Program | Counter Notice Letter
Counter Notice (pre-2003) | Counter Notice present | On-Line Survey from 2004 | Articles about VeRO | What To Do If You Are Veroed

Original material by Karen Dudnikov & Michael Meadors is © 1999-2019