Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property law, in very broad terms, governs the ownership and accessibility of ideas, inventions on tangible and intangible concepts. In an extremely competitive world, IP law plays an extremely critical role.
Different means of protecting one’s ownership or controlling propagation of ideas, concepts, products, etc in IP come in the form of: (a) patents – for tangible or ‘hard’ property such as machinery, technology, retail products, etc; (b) trademarks and copyrights – for ‘soft’ matters such as art, entertainment, media, etc.
Much of an IP lawyer’s activity will involve providing legal advice on usage, commercial viability, marketing & distribution mechanisms, infringement or duplication, vesting of ownership and usage rights, etc for any product or matter which fall within the ambit of IP. Like most legal areas, IP also has contentious and non-contentious components.
What is involved in Intellectual Property Law?
Most large firms will have separate departments handling IP, IT and Life Sciences where the maximum amount of patent, copyright and trademark usage is concentrated. If this is a field you want to specialize in, it is better to join one of the mid-range and smaller boutique firms which work exclusively on IP matters.
The various means by which you can protect intellectual property are – patents which are applied to new inventions or processes which impact the relevant industry and provide the patent holder rights to use the product or application, exclusively for a fixed period of time.
A trademark is a symbol or mark affixed on a product; a registered design conveys exclusive usage rights to the design holder. Copyrights are more ephemeral concepts and usually used in literature, media, entertainment, music, publishing etc. Copyright is an intangible ownership right and does not require any formalities completed as would be necessary for patents and trademarks.
An IP lawyer’s day to day tasks can incorporate a wide array of activities. Whether it is issuing notices to parties infringing on a client’s rights or trawling through various patent registries in relation to a new product, innovation or idea brought forward by a client.
If any disputes arise, you will be required to initiate discussions between both parties, as well as challenging decisions and rulings that might go against your client’s interests.
What is needed for Intellectual Property Law?
The subject-matter that an IP lawyer gets to deal with can be very fascinating yet technically complex. It is important for the lawyer to be well-versed in the area or industry segment in question, be current with business and innovation trends and understand and appreciate creativity. Drafting expertise is an important requirement since contracts and agreements are the lifeblood of any IP deal. Additionally, you will need to be very flexible in your working style as you will work simultaneously on transactions from different fields.
It also helps to be organized so you can keep track of your workload and be able to communicate effectively complex situations in a simple and clear way.
Current Climate for Intellectual Property Law
IP regulatory mechanisms continue to be more streamlined day by day. As such, it is important to keep abreast of recent changes and developments. Contentious work in Intellectual Property is a highly demanding and competitive field – claims against infringement, combating piracy and imitation of branded material is a huge segment.
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