Broadly speaking, Intellectual Property law is the legal protection of creative property ownership. However, the term does in fact cover several different areas of creation with commercial value – such as artistic works, patents, industrial processes, and the related forms of protection, whether they’re trademarks, trade secrets, copyright, patents, or licensing.
The reach of IP covers both the tangible end products resulting from an idea, and the intangible ideas themselves. Ultimately, the goal of IP is to protect these intellectual properties from misuse or theft, and to protect the owners of those rights from financial loss. However this interesting legal field may also involve the buying and selling, or sometimes even leasing, of intellectual property rights to other parties.
A lawyer working in the field of IP may also encounter cases of duplication, or infringement, or agree the usage rights of an upcoming product or service. Lawyers will often need to specialise in one or two particular areas in order to handle them effectively; areas such as copyright or trademarking may overlap, whilst patent law often requires greater specialisation.
What does a career in Intellectual Property Law involve?
A great deal of an IP lawyer’s work will mean providing legal advice on a range of issues from commercial viability and marketing, to vesting ownership and infringement. On a day-to-day basis, there are a wide array of activities which may take place, from emailing a party who are infringing a client’s work, to searching patent registries on behalf of a new innovation brought forward.
In the case of disputes, an IP lawyer will initiate discussions between the involved parties, and challenge any rulings which may work against the client’s interests. Work may cover areas of film or music, recent innovations such as industrial components or household objects, unique trade secrets, or the ways a product is trademarked, copyrighted, and licensed.
Typically, roles in this area require some technical savvy to support the creative projects, alongside legal drafting experience and contract knowledge. Most large firms will have a specific department, where the majority of IP cases can be found. However, if wishing to specialise in Intellectual property concerns, smaller legal firms which focus on IP considerations may allow for greater experience and more room to specialise and progress.
Is IP for you?
It is important for IP lawyers to appreciate creativity, and understand certain facets or methods of its expression. This field broadly covers technically complex yet fascinating projects, which invariably require an informed knowledge of trends or developments in line with their type. As there will likely be multiple projects happening concurrently, organisation and flexibility will be of paramount importance, combined with an ability to handle complex discussions.