What is an Intellectual Property Lawyer?
Also known as patent, copyright, or trademark lawyers, intellectual property lawyers help businesses and individuals protect their inventions, designs, and creative works. Federal and some state laws establish and protect patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights, and other types of intellectual property. Lawyers specializing in this type of law helps clients protect their work and enforce those protections.
What Do Intellectual Property Lawyers Do?
An intellectual property lawyer specializes in the laws related to safeguarding intellectual property. They work with clients who have intellectual property in three main ways:
- Counseling. A lawyer can provide advice about the intellectual property you think may have value. They can search for any potentially conflicting trademarks, inventions, or copyrights.
- Protection. If you have something of value to protect that falls under the category of intellectual property, a lawyer will help you get the appropriate protections. This may include filing for a trademark, patent, or copyright.
- Enforcement. With a registered trademark, patent, or copyright, a lawyer can help you enforce those protections. If someone infringes on your protected intellectual property, you can take them to court.
When Do I Need an Intellectual Property Lawyer?
You do not necessarily need a lawyer to help you file for intellectual property protection. It can be useful, though, especially for initial advice on what protection to seek. This and other situations warrant hiring an intellectual property lawyer:
- You have an idea, invention, or creative work, and you’re unsure how to protect it.
- You’ve filed for a patent, trademark, or copyright and been denied.
- You’re considering licensing your intellectual property.
- You have a licensing agreement, but the other party has broken it.
- You want to sell your intellectual property.
- Someone is using your intellectual property without your permission.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Intellectual Property Lawyer?
Intellectual property laws can be confusing. You don’t always need a lawyer, for instance, to file for a patent, but having representation can make the process much easier. Consider hiring a lawyer for any intellectual property situation for these benefits:
- Choose the right protection.
It can be difficult to understand all the laws that apply to intellectual property and which one best suits your needs. A lawyer can help you make that choice so that your property is protected under the law.
- Draft a solid agreement.
If you are licensing a copyright or trademark or selling your intellectual property, your lawyer will ensure the agreement is fair and that you are not being cheated.
- Value your intellectual property.
You may have no idea what your intellectual property is worth, but a lawyer experienced in these matters does. They can help you figure out what you have and what its monetary value is.
- Protect your property.
If you have intellectual property being misused by someone, your lawyer will help you enforce the patent, copyright, or trademark. They can help you file a lawsuit to sue those responsible.
Choosing an Intellectual Property Lawyer
Before choosing the lawyer to help you with intellectual property matters, meet a few. You have every right to interview firms and attorneys before making a decision. Ask any important questions you have, including:
- What is your experience with intellectual property cases?
- Have you handled one like mine before?
- How long have you been working in intellectual property?
- What are my options in this case?
- Are there any problems you see with my case, or is it clear cut?
- What other information do you need from me?
- What would you do next if I choose you to represent me?
- How long will my case take?
- What are your fees?
- Will you be the one representing me most of the time?
How to Work with an Intellectual Property Lawyer
The intellectual property lawyer is an expert guiding you through the process of protecting and enforcing your property. To do the best job for you, they need you to partner with them, providing information, asking questions, and following their advice.
Prepare for a meeting with an intellectual property lawyer by gathering all the necessary information. It is helpful for the lawyer to have this information ahead of your meeting:
- A description of what you are hoping to protect through intellectual property laws
- A summary of the issue or challenge you’re facing with your intellectual property
- Copies of any protections you already have, such as a patent or copyright
- Any documents related to infringements of your protections, such as sales contracts or use agreements
- Answers to any of the questions the lawyer sends you in advance of the meeting
- Your contact information and information for anyone involved in a dispute
You may not have everything you need ahead of meeting with your lawyer, but sending them what you have about a week in advance is helpful. It gives them time to read through the information and to be prepared to answer your questions and provide advice.
Intellectual property lawyers have highly specialized knowledge. Don’t settle for an attorney without this expertise if you need to protect your creative works, patents, or trademarks.