Intellectual Property Lawyers—Protecting New Ideas

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Intellectual property lawyers are professionals trained in the legislation and regulations that protect individuals' creations from intellectual theft.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency responsible for the protection of intellectual property worldwide, "Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce."

In regard to the law, intellectual property is divided into two categories: industrial property and copyright. Industrial property includes inventions and their patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source. Copyright includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems, and plays; films and musical works; artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculptures; and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

What Intellectual Property Lawyers Do

Basically, intellectual property lawyers do everything legal that is connected with intellectual property. For industrial property, you might hire an intellectual property lawyer to help you file an application for a patent or trademark, defend your patent or trademark, represent your case before a patent examiner or board, or write a licensing agreement.

Additionally, IP lawyers can litigate matters related to intellectual property—representing clients in courts that go before agencies like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the International Trade Commission and arguing all sorts of IP law, including patent law, trademark law, copyright law, trade secret law, licensing, and unfair competition claims.

Some IP lawyers also specialize in particular fields' intellectual property laws: biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, computer engineering, nanotechnology, the internet, and e-commerce. In addition to earning a law degree and passing the bar, many IP lawyers also possess degrees in a field related to the inventions they hope to help protect through IP law.

Traits of Good IP Lawyers

Inventors certainly have the right to prepare their own applications, file them, and conduct their own proceedings. However, without having the knowledge that intellectual property lawyers have, inventors may find it extremely difficult to navigate the complex world of property rights and laws. A good IP lawyer, then, will be able to reassure the inventor their services and expertise fit into the needs and budget of the invention.

Good IP lawyers know less about the scientific and technical knowledge involved in your invention and more about the process of preparing a patent application and conducting proceedings with any patent office, which is why you would want to hire an intellectual property lawyer familiar with the rules and regulations.

As of 2017, IP attorneys on average earn between $142,000 to $173,000 per year, meaning it's going to cost a lot to hire one of these litigators to help you with your claim. Since IP lawyers can be quite expensive, you should try to file a patent on your own for your small business until the profits start rolling in. You can then hire an IP lawyer to come in later and verify the patent on your latest invention.