Intellectual Property Attorney
Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Career as Intellectual Property Attorney

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Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of humans, such as inventions and discoveries; literary and artistic works like books, plays, music and artwork; designs; and symbols, names and images used in business. Intellectual properties are protected by Intellectual property laws that allow the creator or owner of the product / work to prevent others from exploiting the same commercially for a certain period of time. These rights make the creator/ inventor as the owner of the product/ work.

Common types of intellectual property rights include:

Protection of intellectual property has become so important that companies today carry out intellectual property audits to identify their intellectual wealth and form special departments to manage them. The legal professional who specializes with matters related to intellectual properties are termed as Intellectual Property Attorneys. The major job of all Intellectual property (IP) lawyers is to protect the intellectual property rights of their clients. 

All the intellectual property rights are protected under various sub-divisions of law such as Patent under patent law; Trademark under trademark law and Copyright under copyright law etc. An intellectual property lawyer can specialize in any or all of these fields, and their roles and responsibilities vary according to the fields. 

Besides the patent, copyright, trademark areas these professionals can also work in the field of industrial design, layout design of integrated circuit, geographical indication, trade secrets and protection of plant varieties, information and communication technology law (cyber laws).

IP lawyers work with numerous clients from small business owners to top management of law corporations, from garage inventors to prize winning scientists, and provide services such as registration, enforcement, drafting, filing, litigation and licensing of intellectual properties like trade marks, designs, patents, copyrights etc.

How to Become an Intellectual Property Attorney

Education Background

A law graduate with a comprehensive knowledge in IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) can become an IP lawyer. Those who intend to be an IPR attorney may join a law course with IPR specialization or specialize in any of the IPR courses after law degree. Doing a specialization in IP course provides an in-dept knowledge in the field, as well as develop related skill sets such as legal and technical writing, computer and presentation skills that are prerequisites for a successful Intellectual Property career. IP law is a unique field and practicing as an IP attorney usually requires a background in scientific, mathematical or related field in addition to law degree.

The IP courses are suitable not only for lawyers but also for other professionals such as Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries, Management and commerce students etc. Aspiring IP professionals with engineering, chemistry, physics or biology degree and hands-on experience, can have opportunities in a wide range of industries including biotechnology, pharmaceutical law, computer engineering, nanotechnology, Internet and e-commerce. The division of such work among lawyers, licensed non-lawyer jurists/agents varies greatly from one country to the other.

Numerous government as well as private institutes offer courses in Intellectual Property Rights. IIT-Kharagpur, Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, offers 3 year LLB program with specialization in IPR. PG diploma, Post Graduate Certificate, Diploma, Certificate Courses, Distance Learning as well as Online Courses are offered in IPR. NLSIU, NALSAR, Amity Law School, IGNOU etc offer diploma programs through distance education. The eligibility critera for studying 1 year Diploma in Intellectual Property Law is graduation from any recognized University. Several colleges offer 2 years post graduate diploma program in IPR. Global School of Intellectual Property (GIIP) offers 6 month postgraduate diploma program in IPR and 3 months Post Graduate Certificate in Intellectual Property Law. Law, science, engineering, technical and management graduates are eligible for this course.

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), School of Law in association with Queens land University of Technology (QUT), Australia offers 2 year online Master's Program in Intellectual Property Law (MIPL). Graduates from any stream can do this course and there is no age bar. This program is delivered using virtual-learning friendly components such as self-instructional text, audio-video materials, radio and television broadcasts, online counseling, video-conferencing and other innovative internet-based learning techniques and systems.

Master's degrees program, i.e LLM in Intellectual Property Law give emphasis on matters of public domain, moral rights, trade secrets, patents, copyrights and other integral topics. One can pursue LLM degree on regular as well as distance mode. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) offers various IPR related courses in IP law to train professionals.

Course Areas in IP Law Course : 

IP law course provides an in-depth knowledge in all areas of Intellectual Property law like trademarks, patent, copyrights etc. Besides the traditional fields, some courses cover Pharmaceutical, IT, Mechanical, Chemical and Biotechnology Patent Practice. By studying IP law, students will get advanced knowledge of the issues that can arise in this field. They also study about drafting IP licenses, patent prosecution, biotech patent law, copyrights and unfair trade competition. The LLM and MIPL programs cover topics like licensing intellectual property rights, the federal circuit court system, law in cyberspace, patent law, trademark and trade secrets law, IP theories and telecommunications law.

The Lawyers who specialize in any of the Intellectual Property areas such as trademarks, patent, copyrights etc. have to attend the exams conducted in the respective section. For instance, those who wish to be registered as a trademarks agent should write the Trademarks Law Exam conducted by the registrar of trademarks. On the other hand to become a patent agent, one must qualify the Indian Patent Agent examination conducted by the Indian Patent Office (IPO). 

Skill Required for IPR Professional

Critical thinking, analytical reasoning, negotiation, research and writing skills, knowledge of scientific and legal concepts, mathematical or computer-related skills, excellent communication and competence to manage IPR are the major attributes required for an IP Professional. Since IPR law is an innovation-oriented profession, Intellectual Property lawyers should possess scientific, technical, technological and business skills. They should possess an eye for detail to understand all kinds of information and must have some technical skills in engineering, technology, physics, chemistry or biology.

Job Prospects

Intellectual property professionals (IPR) are in great demand to procure the rights to new ideas and protect the ownership of existing creations, inventions and innovations. Most organizations hire skilled professionals in this field to handle their Intellectual property issues. 

Technical graduates who have completed IPR courses but are not lawyers, are endowed with a wide range of employment opportunities as Patent analysts, Patent Engineers or agents, Patent / IP consultants/ Advisor, Licensing & Valuation experts, Patent prosecutors, portfolio managers etc.

Law Graduates (LLB, LLM) Professionals with IP law degree can work at law firms, other organizations or as independent IP attorneys. Aspiring IP lawyers can gain experience by working in any law firm or government agency specializing in intellectual property rights under an experienced licensed intellectual property attorney.

IPR professionals work as :

Openings are available in International law firms, Intellectual Property Offices, the World Trade Organization, non-government organizations and much more. IPR professionals are hired by large number of industries as well as the MSME sector like IT and Telecom Technology, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology, Chemical/ Energy/ Oil and Gas manufacturing units, National laboratories, Electronics/ telecommunication/automobile and heavy engineering industries etc. Interested persons can take up teaching jobs or join research organizations.

Salary for Intellectual Property Attorney

Intellectual Property Attorneys can specialize in any or all the IPR areas consisting of patents, trademarks and copyrights etc. The salary range of these professionals varies depending on their areas of specialisation. Fresh law graduates can earn a monthly salary of Rs.15, 000 and Rs. 20,000. After 1 or 2 years experience they can earn much more. Professionals with work experience can earn between Rs.8 -15 lakhs or more per annum. Some firms offer benefits such as profit sharing and bonus.



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