Discover how trademark, patent, and software law can help small business, entrepreneurs, and inventors. Check my blog for questions and answers.

What is Pro Se?

What is Pro Se?


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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