What is an Intellectual Property Attorney?

What is an Intellectual Property Attorney?

While for some varieties of lawyers, it’s easy to understand the scope of their field, such as family attorney, corporate attorney, or human rights attorney, you could be forgiven for asking ‘What is an intellectual property attorney?’ Patent Ingenuity is a law firm which specializes in a particular type of intellectual property law, patent law. If you are interested in learning more about what an intellectual property attorney is, the firm is ready to help.

First of all, intellectual property (or IP, as it is frequently known) is private property that is more intangible than a building or a car. Broadly, IP concerns ideas, creations such as designs, characters, inventions, stories, and the like.

What Are The 4 Kinds of Intellectual Property?

There are four main types of intellectual property, and all may be legally protected. 

  • Patents: protects inventions that may be developed, are in development, or have been developed. Industrial processes, software, and hardware  are just a few examples of things that potentially may be patented.
  • Trademarks: protect words, phrases, symbols, sounds, smells, and color schemes. Trademarks typically represent, in some way or another, a product or service. 
  • Copyrights: rather than protecting ideas, copyrights protect works created by artists, designers, writers etc. Specifically original works of authorship such as art, music, software (such as video games), and written works may be the subject of copyright protection. While copyrights allow the owner to control creative use, performance, and distribution of the works in most cases, there are exceptions. 
  • Trade secrets: for companies with sensitive procedures, systems, formulas or recipes, strategies, or other exclusive information, trade secrets offer little legal protection. These are sometimes protected by nondisclosure agreements (NDAs).

Role of an Intellectual Property Lawyer in Today’s World

An Intellectual property lawyer can offer legal support to clients who are establishing and seek to protect intellectual capital. An IP law practice can handle matters ranging from:

  • Patents
  • Copyright
  • Trademark law
  • Trade secret projects
  • Licensing
  • Franchising
  • Distribution

and more. It can also draft license agreements, royalty agreements, technology transfer agreements, and the like. An IP lawyer can be called on to represent clients in federal and state court, or before administrative agencies such as the US Patent and Trademark Office, or the International Trade Commission. 

In addition, an IP attorney may be asked to consult on creative ideas, and assist in development of new ideas to boost the value of clients’ IP portfolios, including advising on new rules, regulations, and precedents concerning how to protect unique ideas. Patent Ingenuity is particularly well-placed to offer this service, thanks to the firm’s unique Patent Concierge Service, which guides startups and other small businesses through the process of establishing their patent portfolios.

Patent Attorney vs. Intellectual Property Attorney

While patents are a type of intellectual property, not every intellectual property attorney is the right choice when you really need a patent attorney. Although all patent attorneys are Intellectual property attorneys, not all Intellectual Property attorneys are patent attorneys.  To become a Registered USPTO patent attorney, an individual must meet certain qualifications, which often includes some type of engineering or science background, as well as passing the patent bar exam. The patent bar exam tests a candidate's knowledge of patent law and USPTO policies and procedures as set forth in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP). The technical knowledge, in addition to the law degree, equips patent attorneys to understand the details of the invention, advise on the patent strategy, and write strong patent applications that have the highest chance of being granted. 

Patent Attorney vs. Patent Agent

How are patent attorneys different from patent agents? Both patent attorneys and patent agents are required to have some technical education in science, computers, or engineering. Like attorneys, patent agents are able to prepare, file, and prosecute patent applications as well as appear in front of the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Unlike attorneys, patent agents are not capable of practicing law -- meaning they cannot give you any legal advice. A patent attorney has attended law school and is registered to practice law in a particular state. A patent agent is not a lawyer and therefore cannot provide any legal advice, such as advice on patent licensing or patent infringement.

H2 How Does One Become A Patent Attorney

To become a patent attorney typically involves obtaining a bachelor of science four-year degree in a given engineering or science discipline, followed by a three-year law degree.  The patent attorney will typically seek a four-year degree in the particular area in which he or she spends the most time writing patents in.  For example, Samuel K. Simpson, the founder of Patent Ingenuity, has an engineering degree in computer science, and spends a large portion of his time preparing and obtaining software patents.

Additionally, having hands-on, practical experience is a big plus for a patent attorney.  As an example, Mr. Simpson worked as a software engineer prior to attending law school.  Given that patent attorneys often interface with engineers and scientists, having work experience as an engineer or scientist is typically quite helpful for one’s career as a patent attorney.

How To Find A Patent Attorney

A patent attorney is of use to any company which is developing new processes, programs, or even algorithms. 

In selecting a patent attorney, first consider his or her technical specialty. If your invention is software, you may engage a patent agent or attorney with a software background. If your invention is in the biomedical field, you may want to consider a patent lawyer with a degree in biology or life sciences. Next, consider the lawyer’s track record: how many successful patent applications has this attorney worked on, and in which areas? (You are welcome to view Patent Ingenuity’s successful patents, as an example). Not all patents are equal, and the firm recommends looking for attorneys with a record of writing strong patents. If you plan to introduce your invention overseas, consider an attorney with international patent experience, to ensure that your product is protected in every market. 

Patent Ingenuity is a patent law firm which specializes in helping funded tech startups create strong patents. If you’re interested in Patent Ingenuity’s services as a law firm with extensive tech patent experience, enquire on the firm’s website.

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