Intellectual Property Law

Judges gavel on book about copyright infringement
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Intellectual property law (IP) is a growing practice area that protects creations of the human mind. These creations include inventions that qualify for patent protection; literary and artistic works such as books, plays, music, and artwork; product names, slogans, logos and packaging; symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce; and trade secrets.

Intellectual property law encompasses six primary areas:

Why Intellectual Property Law Is Growing

Intellectual property is an organization's most valuable asset. New developments in science and technology have created the need for lawyers with specialized backgrounds in these areas to help protect the intellectual capital of businesses, authors, inventors, musicians and other owners of creative works.

In today's competitive landscape, demand for intellectual property lawyers is growing. As long as invention and innovation exist, intellectual property lawyers will be needed to procure the rights to new ideas and protect the ownership of existing creations. Even when other law practices are affected by a recession, intellectual property law continues to thrive.

The growth of the Internet has created a surge in intellectual property crimes, particularly hard goods piracy, Internet piracy and cybersquatting (the abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet).

Content protection and electronic rights in a digital age is a fast-growing IP niche. China and developing countries are enacting sophisticated laws and paying greater attention to IP enforcement, fueling the growth of intellectual property law internationally.

Intellectual Property Law: Job Duties

Intellectual property lawyers counsel clients on establishing and protecting intellectual capital.

Most intellectual property law practices span the entire gamut of intellectual property matters, from patents, copyright and trademark law to licensing, franchising and distribution to technology transfers and trade secret projects. Intellectual property lawyers also assist in licensing inventions, transferring proprietary technology, drafting licensing agreements, negotiating settlements and conducting IP asset due diligence.

Intellectual property lawyers litigate intellectual property matters across the globe, representing clients in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the International Trade Commission.

Intellectual property lawyers frequently consult on creative ideas and develop new ideas that will increase the value of their clients' IP portfolio. They also advise on new rules and regulations governing the protection of unique ideas.

Education and Background

In addition to a law degree, most intellectual property lawyers possess scientific, engineering or technology-related degrees. This specialized scientific or technology education and hands-on industry experience help IP lawyers lend their expertise to a wide range of industries including biotechnology, pharmaceutical law, computer engineering, nanotechnology, Internet, and e-commerce.

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