Anatomy of a copyright infringement lawsuit


Carolyn E. Wright, of the Law Office of Carolyn E. Wright, LLC, has presented copyright owners with an extraordinarily detailed expose of what happens in a copyright infringement lawsuit. Copyright owners and valuators alike will benefit. Here we extract only the costs a plaintiff can expect to incur.

1. The initial filing fee paid to the court for federal lawsuits is $350; 2. If the defendant refuses to waive service, the cost to serve the summons and complaint is about $100; 3. Plaintiff’s attorney will have to make several court appearances and may ask for travel expense reimbursement; 4. Federal judges can ask for physical copies of all court filings, and plaintiff may be asked to pay for photocopying and delivery charges; 5. Most federal courts require an early attempt at mediation, and if the court-appointed mediator is not savvy enough in copyright law, parties may wish to split the expense of a private mediator, at $500 an hour, for up to 8 hours; 6. Depositions cost between $1,500 and $2,500 each; 7. Expert witnesses usually charge $250-$350 an hour, plus expenses; 8. Add the attorney’s hourly rate times all research, meeting, travel, court, and on-call time.

If victorious, the plaintiff can ask the court to make the infringer pay court costs, with no guarantees.

Analysts can use this checklist of costs to test whether a copyright owner has the wherewithal or inclination to protect the copyright, directly influencing the valuation.


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