Intellectual Property Attorneys

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This question was asked twice, so we've included both sets of answers.

-- Dede Bonner

I have a book idea that my friends and colleagues are urging me to get legally protected before I shop it around to publishers. Has anyone else had a similar situation and what advice can you share? I would like specific names of intellectual property lawyers who specialize in protecting ideas, not writing patents. Responses

-- Roger Herman

We requested referrals to intellectual property attorneys who could work with us aggressively to defend a registered trademark, charging reasonable rates. Here are the suggestions we received. We've listed our choice at the top of the list. We're very pleased. Responses

Responses to Dede's Question

-- Fred Gleeck

My IP attorney is great and highly recommended. His name is Stephe Soden and he does all of mine and my client's work. His phone is 619/239-3200;

I and am very careful with my recommendations and this one I have NO problem making.

-- Ariane Goodwin

One thing to keep in mind, intellectual property laws are state-mandated, not federal. Therefore, advice from lawyers outside your state will not be helpful because, if you have to go to court, only steps that abide by specific state statutes will be honored.

Also, books are not usually considered for intellectual property protection. That's automatically done by copyright. One way to protect yourself is to mail yourself a copy of the same proposal you will be sending out, and never open it. You have the post date for a time reference. Also, get a copy of it notarized before you send it out.

It's really rare for publishing companies to steal ideas. They're too busy trying to market the ones they've already paid out.

Another thought, figure out all the companion products that you could spin off the book and then have those covered by intellectual property protection.

-- Tom Justin

Below is the contact information for Ellen Stiefler. She is a highly regarded, respected and, yes, liked, attorney specializing in the areas you need. Below is her contact information. Ms. Stiefler is currently representing my most recent project, and I'm happy to make the introduction.

Ellen Weiler Stiefler, a Professional Corporation
Post Office Box 2689
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067-2689
(858) 756-5767 phone
(858) 756-1371 fax
(309) 416-3390 e-fax
(858) 775-7665 cell

-- Michael Larsen

You may have already heard from NSA member Francine Ward who is an intellectual property attorney. I'm an agent, and as far as I know, it's not possible to protect an idea.

-- Al McCree

For the record, you can't copyright an idea, only the expression of an idea. For example, you can't copyright or otherwise protect a title. Any good intellectual property attorney will tell you that. So my best advice is for you to get your ideas down on paper or record your ideas on tape. Then register the copyright of your unpublished work with the Library of Congress. Bear in mind, that the only value of this registration, is if someone steals your work and you wish to sue them in court.

There is a terrific Web site on copyright rules and intellectual property from Washington State University: . Although portions of the site are not yet complete (music for example), it is an easy-to-use resource that has excellent content. Really good discussions on what can and cannot be protected by copyright as well as the doctrine of fair use.

-- Liz Weber

I'm currently working with Dave Radak (, 412/566-6777. He's based in Pittsburgh and is helping to clean up a bad trademark application for my new book. He's been terribly honest, straightforward, and knows his stuff. In our initial telephone conversation, he immediately laid out the plan for action. No word yet from USPTO if they'll approve our requests, but I've been happy with Dave's performance so far.

-- Joan Stewart

Try Patricia Eyres, who is an NSA member. I hired her to do some work for me and she was terrific! She cuts right to the chase and doesn't waste time.

-- Jim Meisner

As a writer first, and a speaker second, I'd say that most publishers would rather pay you for your good book, rather than pay lawyers to fight you in court for having stolen your idea. The idea of publishers rejecting a book proposal, and then turning around and publishing it themselves, is a common misconception outside publishing. If you consider that it takes even a small publisher as much as two to three years to get a book from proposal to the shelf, the chances that they stole someone's idea are pretty slim.

-- Mellanie True Hills

Check out Dan Steven, author/lawyer, at I haven't worked with him, but was impressed by the resources and knowledge on his web site.

-- Lynn Shaw

In the compilations at SpeakerNet News is a list of attorneys for someone who posted a similar question earlier this year [Roger's list]. That person chose my recommendation and was very pleased.

John Brannon
Bingham & McHale, LLP
2700 Market Tower
10 West Market Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-4900
(317) 635-8900

Please tell John I referred you -- he is familiar with NSA -- when I was prez of the Indiana chapter, he spoke to our group about copyright and trademark law, and I am also one of his clients.

-- Jay Arthur

Put the copyright symbol and year © 2003 on the manuscript. This protects your work for 50 years. No one in the publishing business has the time or energy to "steal" your idea, so don't waste your time or money on a lawyer.

-- Shep Hyken

You might try calling Ralph Kalish at Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin, LLP, 314/345-6450. He did some work for me. He is a member of NSA. Blackwell Sanders is a fairly large firm in St. Louis.

-- Myra McElhaney

For an intellectual property lawyer I recommend Michael D. Hobbs, Jr. in Atlanta. He is with Troutman Sanders LLP and specializes in intellectual property law. He has worked with several authors including the author of The Millionaire Next Door, a NY Times bestseller. Most of his clients are corporations and he recognizes that with authors (or aspiring authors) the money is coming out of your own pocket so he's great about working with you to know what is necessary vs. what is a good idea so that you can budget wisely.

Having a consultation with Michael before starting the research and proposal process on my book was a smart move. The Troutman Sanders LLP newsletter "Technology, Intellectual Property & the Law" contains valuable information, as well. Here's his contact info: 404/885-3330,

-- Helen Macdonald

I have heard about a method for protecting your intellectual property, before it becomes a product, which was spoken about at our National Speakers Association of Australia meeting some months ago. The firm is called "Copyright Protection Services International Pty Ltd" and their website is They have a simple and cost effective method, which you might find useful.

-- Ron Kaufman


-- Leslie Charles

Worrying about protecting my ideas as I submit my work to publishers is not a concern of mine. My practice has been: get a good agent and whatever $ I might have spent on an attorney spend on myself instead. I don't use an attorney for pub. or PR contracts. If I trust my agent, that's good enough for me -- and it's worked so far w/two major house books -- I'm plunging forth w/my third.

Just thought I'd toss in my opinion.

Responses to Roger's Question

-- Lynn Shaw

John Brannon is an excellent attorney specializing in this field. Located in Indianapolis, he has addressed our NSA of Indiana Chapter. Please tell him I referred you and that you are a member of the National Speakers Association.

C. John Brannon
Bingham McHale LLP
2700 Market Tower
10 West Market Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-4900
Direct Dial: 317-968-5360
Fax: 317-236-9907

-- Jill Lublin

Michael Starkweather, 801/521-3200
Maria Speth, 602/258-1700,

-- Jim Donovan

Ivan Hoffman. He's been on the publishing forums for years and has a ton of information on his web site.

-- Susan RoAne

Jon Tandler at Isaacson, Rosenbaum, Woods and Levy of Denver. He teaches at NYU Summer Publishing Institute and at Stanford's Pub. program. He really knows his stuff and is meticulous about contracts. I have worked with him since 1997 and only wish I had had his expertise from the beginning of my career. 303/292-5656,

-- Terri Lonier

It's his specialty, along with publishing and contract negotiations. Lloyd is sharp, and tenacious. He's helped me renew and retain my Working Solo TM, as well as handle my book contracts. He's very involved in the small press/independent publishing arena, and is the author of The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook, published by Wiley.

Lloyd Jassin

-- Scott Friedman

My cousin has been specializing in this for years. He'll treat you right.

Kevin D. DeBre
Intellectual Property & Technology
Greenberg Glusker
1900 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 2100
Los Angeles, CA 90067
310.201.7453 (voice)
310.201.4453 (fax)

-- Lion Goodman

Here's the name of a top-notch intellectual property attorney, specializing in trademarks and copyrights (as opposed to patents). She's fast, efficient, very smart, and will give some advice by phone. Her prices are reasonable. Some actions, such as filing trademarks, are at fixed prices. Tell her I referred you.

Maria Speth
Grant Williams P.C., Attorneys
Phoenix, AZ
(602) 258-1700

-- Fred Gleeck

Stephen Soden, 714/239-3200. Let him know I sent you and you'll get through faster.

-- Barbara Butler

My son is an intellectual property attorney for Heller, Ehrman, White, McAuliffe (HEWM) in San Diego, CA. I don't know about fees for the firm. However, a contact with Barry (son) could possibly be helpful. Just let him know I (his mother) gave you his name.

-- Gil Eagles

Jules Zalon
226 Oakland Road
Maplewood, New Jersey 07040

Top attorney in the field. Also reasonable. He's the guy other attorneys go to. Knows his stuff. Nice guy, very easy to work with. Call him to ask questions.

-- Susan Levin

My attorney for many years has been:

Carol A. Davis
Business/Intellectual Property Attorney
Los Angeles, CA
Phone: 310-541-7555
FAX: 310-541-5957

Business law; contract writing/review; trademark search/registration; copyright; protecting new products; disputes; 29 years Fortune 500 legal experience including speaker-related issues; discounted rates.

-- Mike Larsen

Try Jonathan Kirsch in LA or Ken Norwick in NY.

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions