Business Law Blog

Can I Hire An Intellectual Property Lawyer From Any State?

Posted by Amanda Butler Schley | Apr 10, 2024 | 0 Comments

Many professionals have been shifting toward remote work strategies over the past few years, and lawyers are no exception. An American Bar Association survey at the tail end of the pandemic found that most lawyers report no reduction in the quality of their work after shifting to remote/hybrid models. Embracing a virtual workspace also allows intellectual property lawyers to work with clients across the nation. In turn, this shift gives businesses access to a wider range of legal talent outside of intellectual property lawyers in their home cities. Entrepreneurs may have various questions about working with trademark lawyers in another state, however. Is this even legal? Is there any advantage to hiring a local intellectual property lawyer? While online research can answer some of these questions, consulting with a Louisiana intellectual property lawyer may provide greater insights based on the unique circumstances of each business. Contact the Business Law Group today at (504) 446-6506 to begin this discussion. 

Can a Lawyer Practice Anywhere in the United States?

Some lawyers may only practice in certain states. One of the most important factors to consider is the bar exam, which dictates where lawyers can legally practice law – and different states may have different bar exams. The most common type is the Universal Bar Exam or “UBE,” which is administered by 42 different jurisdictions, per the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). In theory, passing the UBE allows a lawyer to practice law in any other jurisdiction that administers the UBE. In practice, however, this is far more complicated. Although they might both administer the UBE, two states often have very different ways of evaluating character, passing scores, and other factors. Some states have their own bar exams. For example, the Louisiana Bar Exam is the longest in the entire nation – consisting of 3 days and nine separate essays. 

Intellectual property lawyers are less constrained by these limitations when they deal with federal laws. Much of intellectual property law is federal, and this allows intellectual property lawyers to assist companies headquartered in different states. As long as a lawyer has passed the bar in their home state, they can usually advise companies anywhere in the nation with federal intellectual property needs. For example, a lawyer with a passing grade on the Louisiana Bar Exam may not practice state law in New York, but they can still assist a Manhattan company with federal intellectual property issues, such as understanding when to use a trademark symbol. 

Should I Hire a Lawyer From Another Country?

While hiring an out-of-state lawyer for federal intellectual property tasks is entirely acceptable, hiring a lawyer from a completely different country may be more complex. While United States citizenship is not necessary to sit the bar, lawyers may still need a law degree from a law school accredited within the country. Companies headquartered in the United States may wish to work with foreign intellectual property lawyers when expanding into international trade, but in many cases domestic attorneys can also assist with these needs. For example, the Business Law Group in Louisiana may be able to help companies navigate international intellectual property systems like the Madrid Protocol. 

Do Intellectual Property Laws Have State or Federal Jurisdiction?

Some intellectual property issues fall under federal law, while others fall under state law. For example, Louisiana has several state laws regarding intellectual property. While the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act is expressly intended to participate in a wide-ranging effort to facilitate business activity by creating a system of broadly similar codes across multiple states, other Louisiana legislation can take a more tailored approach. Other states may have their own versions of these intellectual property laws. 

Federal laws, including the Lanham Act, the Copyright Act of 1976, and the United States Constitution, apply nationwide. Also known as the Trademark Act of 1946, the Lanham Act can affect trademark issues across the nation. However, it does not necessarily preempt state laws, and it may be difficult to enforce outside of the United States. In addition, federal organizations such as the United States Copyright Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office can affect companies in any state. When assisting clients in different states, intellectual property lawyers focus on these federal laws and not their state-level counterparts.

Does Louisiana Use French Foundational Law for Trademarks?

While federal intellectual laws may apply uniformly across state lines, lawyers may consider the unique attributes of each jurisdiction when assisting out-of-state businesses. For example, a three-year statute of limitations applies to copyright infringement cases in most states, but New York has a shortened statute of just two years. The burden of proof for copyright infringement may also be handled differently by specific states. 

Some states even have fundamentally different legal systems based on foundational traditions that predate the United States itself. One of the most interesting examples is Louisiana, which is the only state without an English Common Law system. Instead, Louisiana is a “civil law state” with an underlying legal system based on French Foundational Law. In other words, Louisiana does not recognize common law rights in the same way as other states. Common law rights often play a central role in federal intellectual property matters, such as those involving trademarks on the Supplemental Register. However, the Louisiana Supreme Court has recognized common law trademarks in certain situations. Although an intellectual property lawyer may be authorized to practice in another state, they may struggle to offer effective legal assistance without a concrete understanding of these subtle interstate nuances.

Contact an Experienced Intellectual Property Lawyer

While entrepreneurs often associate remote work with tech companies and millennials, anyone can carry out business effectively in the virtual world. Many companies have been working effectively with out-of-state lawyers for decades, using relatively “ancient” technology like emails and fax machines. Entrepreneurs should consider expanding their search for intellectual property lawyers beyond their state borders, thereby accessing a much wider pool of experienced professionals. Often, this search ends with the Business Law Group in Louisiana. With a specific focus on helping franchise owners, these qualified business law attorneys have spent years assisting various companies with their intellectual property needs. Call (504) 446-6506 today to schedule a consultation. 

About the Author

Amanda Butler Schley

Ranked as a Top Rated Business and Commercial Attorney, I have more than a decade of experience representing boutique hotels, family-owned businesses, privately owned restaurants, breweries, artists, executives and entrepreneurs.


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Business Law Group is a boutique business services law firm in New Orleans, Louisiana. Our focus is on understanding the legal pitfalls of your business and industry, as well as the secrets to maximizing your legal leverage at every opportunity and in every negotiation. We work selectively with clients that aren't ready for the overhead expense of an in-house general counsel, but understand the advantages of having a trusted legal advisor on their team. Amanda Butler has been ranked as a Louisiana SuperLawyer, New Orleans Top Lawyer, Best Lawyers, and in Leaders of Law.