If a well-funded company steals an individual's intellectual property, are there any means to sue or otherwise enforce the IP rights without costing the victim anything? (I.e., if the victim does not have the means to pay a large retainer to an attorney.)

2 Answers 2


Direct civil suits are not the only way to obtain remedies for property violations. Other options:

  1. Ask. You can send them a simple letter describing the violation and asking them to compensate you appropriately.

  2. Complain to authorities. If they engaged in any behavior that constitutes a crime (e.g., criminal fraud) then the state (via district or state attorneys) is responsible for any criminal prosecution. If the state prosecutes and you are considered a victim, the state generally takes that into account if they are able to prevail against the defender. Even if they didn't commit a crime, but they have a sufficiently outrageous pattern of abusing individuals' civil rights, state attorneys may decide to threaten or take legal action.

  3. Seek a "litigation investor." If the size of damages likely to be recovered via lawsuit is high enough, then law firms will sometimes take cases "on contingency," which typically means the plaintiff does not front any money, but gives up a significant share of any winnings. There are also independent litigation investment companies that perform the same function based on a similar calculus, but often for even larger cuts of any winnings.

  • FWIW, law firms are often willing to take cases like this one on a contingency, while litigation investors are rare (and in some states, prohibited due to common law rules regarding "champerty").
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 8, 2018 at 18:19

Is there anyway I can sue them without costing anything as they have made me bancrupt

This most likely varies by country. In the U.S., this is very unlikely or impossible. Even if you litigate in pro per and the court allows you to proceed in forma pauperis, some costs are inevitable: printing and serving (sometimes by certified mail) copies of your complaint/motions/responses, etc.; deposition transcripts; and other costs related to discovery.

Attorney fees are typically the largest portion of a person's litigation expenses. Thus, by litigating in pro per you would not be at risk of retaining a lawyer who might turn out to be be negligent, incompetent, and/or morally inept (and I have encountered many lawyers who are like that). Additionally, it gives you much more control of the pace of your case.

However, litigation in pro per (aka pro se litigation) requires diligence; proficiency in legal research; ability to arguments to the court; and tolerance to frustration, due to (1) the opposing counsel's vexatious conduct (which is the everyday reality in legal proceedings), and (2) the undeniable judicial corruption in many (state & federal) U.S. courts.

I strongly encourage pro se litigation, provided that personal circumstances permit it. For someone who has never litigated, gaining acquaintance with laws, doctrines, rules of civil procedure, and discovery-related issues entail altogether a steep learning curve.

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