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What is Pro Se?

What is Pro Se?

~ Phoenix, Arizona

There are a few benefits to appearing pro se. The benefits include:

  • No attorney cost.
  • Tell your story in your own voice.
  • May not be available if you have incorporated.

There are a few disadvantages:

  • Impossible to be objective with yourself.
  • Significantly more time and energy to prepare.
  • Must know the statutes, procedures, and local rules.
  • Cannot approach the court (or an opposing party) without going through your attorney.

In some cases, pro se individuals can lessen the disadvantages by using limited services from an attorney; this is sometimes called unbundled services. A limited representation may limit the scope or work (and thereby, the attorney fees) for the client in variety of ways, for example, to review a important documents prior to filing, to help create a strategy, to prepare for a deposition, etc. However, the scope of a limited representation probably cannot include any appearance before the court, because, after appearing before a court, the court must give the attorney permission to exit the proceeding.

At the time of this writing, as I presently understand the US Patent & Trademark Office's ethical cannons, US Patent Attorneys are not permitted to help pro se inventors on a limited basis. In other words, if a US Patent Attorney helps an pro se inventor, then, the patent attorney must also appear before the US Patent & Trademark Office.

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