When “I’m Sorry” Isn’t Enough

Sorry Bout That! by Anne-Sophie Ofrim
Sorry Bout That! by Anne-Sophie Ofrim

I’ve encountered a significant number of people in my short legal career who were under the impression that they could absolve themselves from legal wrongdoings by simply apologizing. Unfortunately for them, that is often not the case.

When I first meet with a client, especially in situations where they suspect their intellectual property has been infringed, I start by asking, “How do you want this to end?” Their answer will inform me what I need to do to try to get their desired result (and if that result is available).

Sometimes my client simply wants the alleged infringer to stop using their work. That requires a cease and desist letter from me and the recipient to cease and refrain from using the material in question. An apology isn’t even required. However, if my client wants money, and my evaluation of their case shows that they are eligible to collect, “I’m sorry” will not be enough to resolve the situation.

In general, once lawyers are involved, “I’m sorry” is not going to be enough to fix the situation. If a person hires a lawyer, they are usually investing hundreds of dollars in an attempt to seek their preferred resolution. Very few people are willing to pay that amount just for an apology.

In my experience, when one side gets a lawyer the other side should get one too – if only for a consultation to understand the totality of the situation. They need to understand their options for responding to a cease and desist or a demand letter and the likely consequences of each potential course of action. In a perfect world lawyers talk to lawyers when there is a dispute. They know the law best and can often speak more candidly about the situation and achieving a resolution.

Every entrepreneur should watch Mike Montiero’s “F*ck You, Pay Me.” It’s an outstanding talk that shows how the legal system helps entrepreneurs protect their rights.

If you believe your rights have been violated or you’ve received a notice from someone’s lawyer accuses you of intellectual property infringement, breach of contract, or the like, contact a lawyer in your community who can analyze the situation and advise you on your options. If you want to chat more about this topic, you can contact me or connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, or LinkedIn.

7 responses to “When “I’m Sorry” Isn’t Enough”

  1. I think that it is interesting to learn more about our rights as citizens. It almost feels like they are trampled on all the time. Either in one direction or the other. Becoming educated really sets you free.

    • I agree! I think more energy in middle and high school civics classes needs to focus on basic legal knowledge.

  2. WOW! First, know that you have rights. Unfortunately, there are too many people who don’t know that or accept “there’s nothing that you can do.”

    • I feel like that is a really common problem. A lot of us just accept that there is nothing we can do. That is not true at all. Because of this new social acceptance, our rights are slowly fading away.

      • I think a lot of people feel like it’s not worth it to go through the legal process to fight for their rights (b/c they’ll spend more fighting than they will collect) but more people are turning to the Court of Public Opinion and getting good results.

  3. […] There is No “Undo” Button. Unlike other social media platforms where you can edit your work before you release it, Periscope videos are live. If you are someone who tends to embellish, be excessively emotional, or otherwise get carried away, perhaps you shouldn’t ‘scope without thinking your ideas through. Because once you put something out there, you can’t take it back and you may not be able to apologize your problems away. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *