TRIAL FEDERAL COURT CASES
During the litigation process in the federal civil court system, there are many opportunities to negotiate and resolve disputes regarding trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other types of intellectual property rights. However, no matter how skilled of a negotiator your attorney may be or how strong your case is, there is always the chance that your opponent will refuse to agree to a reasonable settlement. In such cases, the case will go to a trial.
Federal trials can either be bench trials or jury trials. In a bench trial, the judge hears all evidence from both parties and serves as the factfinder as well as the decider of how to apply the law. In a jury trial, the jury serves as the factfinder while the judge rules on conclusions of law. In some cases, a trial may be bifurcated, so that certain issues are resolved by a judge in a bench trial before the rest of the matter goes to a jury trial.
A trial requires a significant amount of preparation. At this stage the case has gone through the pleading stage, the discovery stage, and the motion stage including pre-trial motions. Handling a case through trial requires a thorough understanding of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that apply to the trial phase of litigation.
The Federal Trial Process
Each trial will have unique issues to address and different types of evidence and witnesses. However, according to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, each trial will follow a particular format. The following is a very brief overview of the various parts of a federal trial:
- Jury selection – Voir Dire is the process by which attorneys select and reject jurors to hear a case. During this process jurors are asked questions by the attorneys. Based on the answers heard, attorneys may seek to remove prospective jurors from the pool for cause (such as apparent bias) or through peremptory challenges.
- Opening statements – Once a jury is selected, the trial opens with statements from the attorneys of each party. These statements are intended to set the stage and inform the jury members of what they can expect to hear during the trial.
- Presenting evidence – This is the most substantial portion of a trial, as each party takes turns admitting evidence and questioning witnesses to enter testimony. Witnesses are then cross-examined by opposing counsel during which the attorney is usually attempting to limit the effectiveness of the evidence contributed by the witness.
- Closing arguments – Closing arguments are an opportunity for each attorney to summarize the evidence and make a final pitch to persuade the jury in their favor.
- Verdict and judgment – The judge will then provide instructions to the jury based on the relevant law and will allow the jury to deliberate. Once the jury decides on a verdict, the judge overseeing the trial will issue a judgment accordingly.
There are many requirements for attorneys at trial, in addition to the basic steps above. Lawyers must be prepared to make objections and defend their reasoning, preserve evidence, and generally protect their client’s rights.
Intellectual Property Trials
Trials involving intellectual property claims can be especially difficult because many people do not understand the nature or implications of intellectual property law. For example, copyrights and patents can be highly technical and involve complicated products or technological formulas. In these types of cases it is smart to spend a significant amount of time educating jury members about facts and the law at issue, as well as the technological or practical aspects of the particular matter in question. To determine whether an infringement occurred, a jury must first understand what infringement entails, and this can be complicated.
In many cases, a highly experienced intellectual property litigator is needed to properly educate a jury. Juries can spend many days—or even weeks—in a courtroom listening to technical and legal information that does not necessarily hold their interest. It is important to properly read a jury and to educate them in a manner they understand and that holds their attention.
To prevail in an intellectual property case, a plaintiff must convince the jury that infringement occurred by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the jury must believe it was more likely than not that infringement occurred.
Contact an Experienced Trial Attorney For Assistance Today
At Mandour & Associates, we fully understand the federal civil justice system and always aim to resolve your case in the most efficient and favorable manner possible—even if it involves going to trial. If you would like to discuss any intellectual property concerns, please feel free to contact our office at any time. You can contact us by clicking here: contact