What do intellectual property lawyers do? How do you become an intellectual property lawyer? This article will walk you through everything you need to know about intellectual property lawyers.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Intellectual Property?
- 2 What Are Intellectual Property Lawyers?
- 3 What Are The 4 Types Of Intellectual Property?
- 4 How To Become An Intellectual Property Lawyer
- 5 Intellectual Property Lawyer Job Description
- 6 Intellectual Property Lawyer Major
What Is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property refers to all inventions, designs, products, logos, art, and music of an individual or company. The legal system around the world provides protection for intellectual property under set laws.
What Are Intellectual Property Lawyers?
Intellectual property lawyers are lawyers who represent clients in all cases related to intellectual property. They may also help their clients in securing contracts and agreements that protect their intellectual property. Intellectual property lawyers are deeply involved in company matters, as intellectual property is what differentiates brands and forms the cornerstone of all businesses.
What Are The 4 Types Of Intellectual Property?
Businesses need to make sure their idea is unique to them and is not copied by competitors. Intellectual property has 4 main types and business owners can get their IP registered under any one of these. The 4 types of IP are:
- Trade Secrets
A patent is an exclusive right given to the owner of an invention with regards to its usage, design, functionality, features for a set period of time, that can range from 15 to 20 years or more. The owner of a patent has ownership of it and may sell it, or grant a license to a third party under mutually decided terms. To get a patent, the owner of the invention must disclose technical details about the patent publicly.
Trade secrets refer to all proprietary processes, designs, systems, devices, formulas, strategies or any other solution that are confidential and inherently exclusive to the company. They are not public like patents and have great economic value. Trade secrets are protected under intellectual property laws and the acquisition of any such information is regarded as a crime in violation of these laws. Protected trade secrets give businesses a huge competitive advantage over their competitors.
A trademark is any sign, whether a letter, symbol, colours or design that is used to differentiate between the different brands or companies in the market. It is unique to the enterprise that owns that product. Businesses go to great lengths to protect their trademarks as IP.
Copyright refers to the author’s or artist’s right over any literary or artistic work. It can range from paintings to music, rhythms, computer programs, advertisements, sculptures, books, databases etc. Copyrights prevent the unlicensed production of the IP and are considered a grave violation of the law if not respected.
How To Become An Intellectual Property Lawyer
An IP lawyer is usually expected to complete a certain level of education before he can move on to practising it. For starters, you will need a bachelor’s degree in any field. Generally, aspirants go for a bachelor’s in science, mathematics or engineering, though undergrads in economics or business are also eligible.
After completing your bachelor’s, you would have to undertake the LSAT exam. This tests the candidate’s analytical reasoning, reading, and writing skills through a series of multiple-choice questions.
Successfully clearing the LSAT grants the lawyer admission into a graduate law school. Here, the lawyers first gain experience in fundamental subjects of law like civil law, constitutional law, family law and criminal law etc. Second and thirds years students gain practical experience through internships, fieldwork, research and apprenticeship. Students are also given the choice to focus their studies towards their specialised branch of work through electives. Students focused on IP can choose optional subjects like intellectual property rights, corporate governance, international trade and corporate law etc.
Graduating from a law school earns the candidate the Juris Doctor (J.D) degree. To be able to practice law, a license has to be obtained. All states require individuals to pass the bar exam to get their license. The license is only valid for practice in the state from where it is granted. To be able to practice in different states, licenses from each state have to be earned.
IP lawyers come in frequent contact with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They need to be registered with the USPTS for all dealings. The USPTO requires all candidates to provide information about their undergraduate and graduate studies and also pass the Patent Bar Examination to be considered eligible for work.
Attorneys should try to gain as much experience as possible. Firms who require IP lawyers typically need them to have 2-5 years of work experience. Individuals should start with internships with firms, government departments and even small businesses to get professional exposure and learning.
Intellectual Property Lawyer Job Description
Intellectual property lawyers are required to deal with all aspects of their client’s intellectual property, which includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. The job description for an IP lawyer is given below, and it can vary from company to company:
- To handle all activities related to patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.
- Assist in drafting, negotiating, advising, and interpreting all agreements and contracts about the company’s IP, including but not limited to, patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.
- Advice teams on legal matters related to IP property
- Advice on IP issues resulting from 3rd party usage and online platforms
- To secure licensing for trademarks, logos, copyrights, designs, colour schemes and all other intellectual property that belongs to the company
- To investigate and take action against infringement of copyrights and trademarks
- To oversee external lawyers providing their services in IP to the company
- To represent the company on all charges of copyrights, patents and trademarks, and to file charges against any and all entities in violation of the company’s copyrights, patents and trademarks.
Intellectual Property Lawyer Major
Students may choose to take majors during both their undergrad and graduate studies that will contribute towards their career choice of becoming a lawyer. Some of the common majors to choose while enrolled in your undergrad include:
- Political Science
- Business Management
- Art History
- Corporate Management
While enrolled in your graduate program, the electives offered to you may vary in their name and course content. However, generally, the following are some of the majors you may choose:
- Entertainment Law
- Patent Application
- Trademark Law
- Intellectual Property
- Patent Assessment
- Licensing Management
In short, one needs to have a 4-year undergraduate degree followed by a graduate degree from a law school. The majors that the individual chooses etches his or her professional path.