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Is this Confidential?

Folks who talk with a lawyer for the first time often wonder, “Is this confidential?”

I know they wonder it, because they often wonder it out loud.

The answer is yes. Even if you haven’t signed anything, or paid your lawyer anything, what you tell your lawyer in that first phone call or during that first meeting is completely confidential.

That means it would be illegal for the lawyer you’re meeting with to disclose anything you say to anyone else without your permission. No one can force your new lawyer to say what you’ve told him or her, either. There’s a statute that prohibits a lawyer from testifying against you. It codifies the attorney-client privilege. If your lawyer violated that trust, he could lose his license. That means he’d lose his livelihood. As you might guess, lawyers take that very seriously.

So why does your lawyer want to know things about your trademark that you think are confidential?

Without knowing what your trademark is, he or she can’t advise you about its enforceability or the risks it might pose through its use. Not to mention its registrability, meaning whether your trademark is likely to be registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He or she can’t tell you that it is descriptive, scandalous, primarily a surname, or likely to cause confusion with a prior-filed registration — any of which could frustrate your ability to register your mark.

Your lawyer also wants to know about your mark so he can make sure he doesn’t represent someone else who has an interest in your mark. In other words, to make sure he doesn’t have a conflict of interest with another client. This is to make sure he can represent you with only your interests at heart.

In other words, when your lawyer asks you questions about your trademark, or your business, she isn’t being nosy. She just wants to learn the information she’ll need to best advise you.

So confidently tell all, knowing your new lawyer’s job is to give you the best advice he or she can.

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