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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3006
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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Hello there. I am an inventor. I had an idea many years ago

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Hello there. I am an inventor. I had an idea many years ago and tried to bring it to market through companies that say they assist in these matters, as well as universities that claim to be even more reputable.

I have performed a poor man's copyright and have obtained signed NDAs from everyone that I revealed my invention to. Now I am seeing it on the market and it is very similar to my designs.

Is there anything that I can do about this? What are my legal options? Thank you for your assistance.

You would have no recourse based on the "poor man's copyright." Contrary to popular belief there is no such thing as a "poor man's copyright." And in any event it would not protect the idea of your invention.

You might have better luck with the Nondisclosure Agreements. Nondisclosure Agreements are contracts and if indeed the people who signed the agreements breached the terms of these agreement, you would be able to bring a lawsuit for breach of contract. A lot of this of course would depend on the exact terms of the Nondisclosure Agreement. In particular what would be important would be how long the agreement was in effect for, and when the breach of the agreement occurred. You might run into a statute of limitations problem if the breach of the agreement happened many years ago.

So I would consider bringing a breach of contract lawsuit against those who you believe violated the Nondisclosure Agreements.

Thomas Swartz and 4 other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Mr. Swartz!


You're response was very informative and helpful. I will check the Nondisclosure Agreements that I have on file with the various companies and universities that I solicited advice from.


In terms of the statute of limitations is concerned though, would the laws applicable in this instance be those of the state that I resided in at the time that the NDA was executed, or the state that the company and or university is registered?


Thank you again for your sage advice.

If the NonDisclosure Agreements are silent as to which state laws would apply if there is a breach, then it would be the law of the state in which you bring the lawsuit in. If you bring a lawsuit in Hawaii, the breach of contract statute of limitations of Hawaii would apply.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you again Mr. Swartz!


Your communication is quite clear and concise. I truly appreciate that! Would it be a conflict of interest if I was to ask what a retainer fee would be in order to solicit your law firm for its' services on my behalf with this case if I was to have a need?


I need an attorney that is an expert in such matters and knows the law quite well in many different states. My case spans over many years and I have lived in the State of Illinois, Nevada and Hawaii while I was actively pursuing the possibility of bringing my idea to market.


I am also currently in Europe in the country of Spain which would add an extra dimension to effectively handling the case.


Thank you again for your help. If it is a conflict of interest to retain your firm's services, could you please provide some direction on how I should choose an attorney?


Thank you.

Unfortunately, since I am only licensed in NY and NJ, I would not be able to represent you in other states. So, I can only give you general legal information here on the Just Answer site. In terms of locating an attorney, the best place to start is to contact the referral service of the local bar association in your state, and ask for an attorney experienced in intellectual property law, specifically nondisclosure agreements.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok. That makes perfect sense. One last question. Should I solicit the local bar association of the state I am currently residing in legally, which is Hawaii?


Thank you again for your help.

Yes, that would be the appropriate place to start; see Hawaii Lawyer


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