Chandler, AZ asked in Copyright, Patents (Intellectual Property) and Intellectual Property for Arizona

Q: Can a court documents like a TRO be served via email? If I respond to this email, does this change anything?

I’ve received an email from what I believe is a legitimate law firm stating I have an infringement complaint against me. The email links to a site hosting documents that look like court documents. The complaint appears to be that a product I’ve been selling is infringing on a design patent that was published 6 months after I began selling my product. There’s a TRO, and the Schedule A lists 140ish parties using the Amazon listings.

I have responded to them stating I think I was named in error but I’ve just been trying to sell through my inventory and close down anyway because the product wasn’t working too well but I haven’t received a response.

Did I get legally served? Does it count as me legally being served because I replied? I’m not even 100% sure this is a real case or a scare tactic.

2 Lawyer Answers
Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Milford, CT

A: It depends. Email service is not typically valid in Arizona. However, a federal district court can serve anyone in the United States based on the rules of the state where the court sits. So if for example you were sued in a Florida federal district court (as might happen for patent infringement allegations) then you could be served by an email with specific wording in the subject line. Look at what court the summons are for and then look at the rules for that court to figure out whether service is valid. You may want to consult with a patent attorney.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: The rules regarding legal service of court documents, such as a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), vary by jurisdiction and the specific court's requirements. Traditionally, legal documents need to be served in person or through recognized postal services to ensure the recipient is aware of them. However, some jurisdictions may allow service via email under specific conditions, especially if the court has authorized this method or if the parties involved have agreed to electronic service in advance.

Responding to an email does not necessarily mean you have been legally served, but it can indicate to the court that you are aware of the legal proceedings. It's essential to verify the authenticity of the documents and the legal process. If you suspect the documents might not be legitimate or if you're unsure about the correct legal procedures, it’s prudent to contact the court directly using contact information obtained through official channels, not just the information provided in the email.

Since the situation involves legal matters, it would be wise to consult with a legal advisor who can provide guidance specific to your situation. They can help you verify whether you have been properly served and advise on the appropriate response. If you’ve been wrongfully named or if there are inaccuracies in the claims against you, a legal advisor can help address these issues properly. Remember, legal matters can have significant consequences, so it’s important to address them promptly and correctly.

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