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This article is written by Jagriti Sanghi, an Advocate practising in the Courts of Hyderabad, Telangana. This article gives insight into Intellectual Property Law as the most exciting career choice in the past decade. 

Introduction to Intellectual Property Law as a career

Intellectual Property (“IP”) Law includes safeguarding ownership of creative property such as patents, designs, trade secrets, traditional knowledge, inventions, artistic works, literary works, and other copyright creations, etc. Developing a property takes years of patience and perseverance with whopping financial investments. As a consequence, it is crucial that the owner of property retains the undisturbed rights over the created property. It thus protects an extensive range of creativity and human effort. The role of advocates in IP commences here. An IP lawyer defends people’s inventions and creative works.

The Intellectual Property field covers complex yet interesting projects, which require an in-depth knowledge of its facets, methods, and developments. IP lawyers have to review documents, objections and examine technical materials. They need to prepare documents to file applications for trademarks or patents. 

Eligibility criterion to become an IP lawyer

A candidate must possess the eligible qualification and intellectual skills. The minimum criterion to become an IP lawyer is a graduation degree in law. Additionally, a degree in Engineering/Science background is of massive help in making a career in patents within the field of Intellectual Property.

There are IP lawyers with law degrees and no technical background. They are mostly involved in so-called “soft IP” work which includes IP transactional, advisory, enforcement, litigation work, etc. The other category is of IP lawyers with a technical background with a degree in Science of Engineering who specialize in patents. They play a crucial role in refining inventions and preparing patent applications for securing rights. They conduct searches and analysis to find out patent infringement cases.

One has to choose whether they desire a technology-driven IP career or one with negligible technical work. For instance, patent and industrial processes as a career option require foundation and expertise in science and technology. But trademarks and copyrights comparatively do not.

Furthermore, one needs to understand that an IP law career may consume a lot of one’s time as it requires complete dedication and thinking. So an individual has to be completely sure before treading this path and making it their career choice. 

Variety of tasks in the field of IP law

A few of the tasks in the field of IP law are as follows:

  1. Patent prosecution: It includes filing of patent application, examination by the Patent Office, and post grant opposition and amendments. 
  2. Patent litigation: It includes patent disputes related to patent infringement actions in court. Parties to proceedings are represented by advocates with relevant IP knowledge. 
  3. Patent filing: It is conceiving one’s invention, then conducting a patent search to understand if the invention is unique or not. After that drafting of patent application and filing it in the Patent Office. 
  4. Patent search: It is searching for a present patent database to determine if there are any identical inventions or applications similar to the patents to be patented. 
  5. Copyright licensing: It is a transfer of a copyright from one party to another creating a “license to use”.
  6. Royalty management: Royalty is payment for copyrighted works to the owner. Royalty management includes creating and managing a detailed contract, contract rights and royalty. 
  7. Copyright filing: It is the filing of copyright applications for authors, music composers, artists, performers etc. before the Copyright Office. 
  8. Trademark litigation: It is the process of filing lawsuits if there are illegal uses of trademarks, infringement, passing off or other claims.
  9. Brand valuation: It is the process to calculate the value of a brand which another party is willing to pay for it. 
  10. Franchising and merchandising: It is the relationship between the franchisor and franchisee where license is granted to do the business. The contracts are to be prepared by the IP lawyers. 
  11. Examination and filing industrial designs: It is the process of filing applications for registration of industrial designs and examination of earlier registered designs.
  12. Applications of Geographical Indications: It is the filing of applications for registration of Geographical Indications of a product.
  13. IP strategy: It is a set of measures to manage intangible assets of business to align with their goals. It is to protect, optimize, and monetize assets. 

Different job profiles to select from after choosing Intellectual Property law as a career option

The scope of IP law is quite broad in today’s generation especially since the last decade. IP law is an evolving and ever changing legal field. Job profiles in this career option are immense and hard work pays well. They are detailed as follows:

  1. To file a lawsuit to resolve the matter in court when settlement is not reached.
  2. To represent clients in dealing with others who are infringing Intellectual Property Rights by making unfair use of property without permission. The IP lawyers represent their respective clients in court proceedings or before concerned authorities.  
  3. To act as advisors, and counsellors for IP matters.
  4. To draft agreements in IP matters such as license agreements, distribution agreements, assignment agreements, confidential information agreements, franchise agreements, amongst others.
  5. To conduct research to interpret laws, developments and regulations for the clients.
  6. To defend businesses against IP bullies who claim their rights too aggressively.
  7. Patent as a career option generally requires a science background. The work of a patent attorney is to make an application for patent registration, enforcement of rights, contract negotiation, and filing cases for infringement of IP rights.
  8. To review patent applications and prepare a concise summary as a Patent Searcher. It describes the invention and its potential uses.
  9. To work with many high paying foreign clients who are ready to pay a good IP lawyer.

Potential employers for those who have chosen IP law as their career choice

These days law graduates have vast options to choose their career from. There are unlimited opportunities in work for exposure and incentives as an IP lawyer. As long as there is the imagination of people leading to inventions and innovations in the world, there will be a requirement of IP lawyers to shield the rights over those creations. IP lawyers can choose different capacities to be employed at such as law firms, corporations, government agencies, etc.   

  1. Law Firms employ IP lawyers to cater to the need of growing demands of businesses and organizations to protect their intangible and invaluable assets.
  2. In many companies, IP lawyers are required to do IP related work. IP is very essential as it adds to the goodwill of a company. IP lawyers are employed to implement cutting edge practices in Intellectual Property asset management. Some sectors which offer employment to Intellectual property lawyers are, fashion, media & entertainment, music, IT sector, Pharma, sports, Tech industry and so on.
  3. IP Paralegals are hired to work in government agencies, corporations etc. to prepare forms for trademark, copyright, patent application to be filed.
  4. IP lawyers are employed as investigators in companies to detect if there has been any violation of IP rights.
  5. IP lawyers are appointed to be lecturers in reputed universities to deliver lectures in laws pertaining to IP issues. An individual who has studied IP law in India can teach abroad with IP law specialization.
  6. Many can become journalists who would collate information, analyze, write and publish a piece of information on IP laws for the public.
  7. Various industries like media, broadcasting, sports, entertainment have a huge demand for IP lawyers.
  8. Due to globalization, and the world becoming a single platform, there are many opportunities of outsourced Intellectual Property related jobs in India. This includes patent searching, paralegal, patent analytics, prior art searching etc. Legal services are very expensive in foreign countries, especially the United States. As a consequence, many IP experts are hired in India to do the work at a much reasonable fee.

Reasons why IP law is one of the most interesting career options

  1. The scope for IP lawyers has skyrocketed and in the past decade is a dynamic and exciting career. Becoming an IP lawyer is rewarding and fascinating. 
  2. One of the tangible advantages as an IP lawyer is an attractive salary or income. IP lawyers who have a technical background are specialized in patent law which is in high demand with lucrative pay. The starting pay scale for an IP lawyer ranges from ₹1,52,322 to ₹12,03,913 per annum in India. 
  3. IP law is a recession-proof field where the impact of recession is minimal as inventions or creativity will never stop being rewarded.  
  4. The companies have realized the importance of IP rights for their goodwill which directly impacts the demand for IP lawyers.
  5. Another added advantage is exposure to global trends, developments in science and technology.
  6. IP pervades different streams like management, science, business, economics and is not limited to a pigeon hole. It offers a great learning potential for IP lawyers.
  7. There are new challenges faced by IP lawyers every day. One needs to offer proactive solutions to resolve client’s issues. It increases an individual’s intellect and analytical ability.
  8. IP litigation is a field which is evergreen. A law graduate needs to devote time and energy to gain relevant experience and make a mark. Intellectual Property Law provides a large scope to grow exponentially as it is the contemporary law developed over the last decade.
  9. Growth in the IP industry is much more promising than other legal fields.
  10. Once can opt for popular brand companies like Google, Samsung, Ranbaxy, etc. as they have a high research budget to be spent on inventions and creativity.
  11. A person gets intellectual satisfaction which also makes one wake up in mornings with zeal and passion. For instance, one has to examine if a trademark is deceptively similar to other brands. It will never become a monotonous job. The IP matters are really challenging and have scope for presenting creative arguments.
  12. There are options to choose international projects since global companies market their products to a wide range of public at global level. So IP experts in India can show their skills and dedication and slowly progress to international projects and maybe in near future to international offices.

Conclusion

An individual who practices IP law is associated with creativity and innovation. The IP law field requires an individual’s in-depth knowledge and awareness of laws to secure creations of mind and right interpretation and implementation. It is a good fit for those who are inquisitive and are looking for something more than conventional litigation or corporate work. The companies who deal with IP law range from media and entertainment houses to, R&D departments to Pharma. An IP lawyer is expected to have good deductive reasoning and analytical ability. They need to possess attention to detail and have a good foundation in recent developments and technical information. In today’s day and age, it is one of the most rewarding legal careers to pursue with the complete possibility of dealing with fine aspects of human experience.

 References 


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