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This article is written by Yash Kapadia. Through this article, we enlist the international career opportunities available in the field of Intellectual Property Rights in the United States of America.

Introduction

The Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) shows the genius side of a nation to the world. Strong IPR protection is absolutely necessary for creating jobs and promoting the economic prosperity of any nation thereby fostering investment in innovation and further development. 

In the United States of America (US), IP industries account for 38% of their GDP, 52% of merchandise exports and a whopping 27.9 million jobs.

Some astounding figures in terms of IP crimes that cost the US economy are that approx $180 Billion come from theft of trade secrets, $18 Billion from pirated US software and $29 Billion in displaced legitimate sales due to counterfeit and pirated goods. 

Keeping these mind-boggling figures in mind, it is easy to ascertain the billions of dollars that are on a roll in this industry. Experts in this field and even people having some sort of specific knowledge can have a piece of this billion-dollar cake. 

Through this article, we shall ascertain the various international job opportunities available in the US in the field of IPR. 

Areas in IPR to practice in the USA 

The USA, like most countries, has 4 major areas of IPR which are Patents, Trademarks, Copyright and Trade Secrets. 

  1. A patent is issued to shield any invention, idea or process which is especially new, useful and non-obvious. Costs will vary depending on the country or countries where you file an application and may run into tens of thousands of dollars counting on the invention’s complexity, plus attorney fees. Maintenance fees over the lifetime of the patent can run into thousands more per patent, per country where patent rights are granted. Once a controversy is conceptualised with a solution, one can file an application which may be a process known to professionals equipped with the knowledge of the whole procedure. More often than not, patent agents or attorneys are hired for his or her consultancy, process and docketing-related activities.
  2. A trademark is used to protect words, phrases, symbols, sounds, smells and colour schemes. A trademark is often considered to be an asset. It is used to identify the source of underlying products or services that it provides, such as the Nike logo, Mcdonalds, Samsung, Warner Bros and so many more. Similar to the approach in the case of patents, it is recommended that with the expertise of an outside counsel that specializes in trademark applications and/or search services, they can help ensure that the registration and other process is a clear path for your desired mark. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, trademark registration currently costs between $225 and $325 for each class code you use per mark. Attorney and search fees are extra. 
  3. Copyrights are not made to protect the idea but the style by which ideas are expressed (“original works of authorship”). For example, written works like books, art, music, drawings, or considering our 21st century even programming code for a software which is most evident nowadays in computer game entertainment. For the purpose of copyright registrations, the US Copyright Office recommends one to use their online application system and requires a sample of the work to be protected and a few background information about the author reckoning on the sort of labor being protected. Currently, fees vary between $25-$100 within the US. A copyright registration sought is for one work by one author and costs about $45.
  4. Trade secrets and techniques are proprietary procedures, systems, devices, formulas, techniques or different records that are exclusive and unique to the business enterprise that made use of them. They act as aggressive blessings for the business. There definitely isn’t a federally-regulated registration manner for exchanging secrets and techniques. Instead, the onus is on the business enterprise in ownership of the name of the game to take vital precautions to preserve it as such. In such situations, nowadays, criminal contracts like exclusive terms, non-disclosures are being made use of. Though there aren’t any legitimate registration charges, there are charges related to taking suitable precautions and safety measures.

Career opportunities in the USA 

It is evident from the introduction that the field of IP is vast with billions of dollars rolling from here to there. It is also pertinent to keep in mind that due to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a drastic transition in the way people now work. Geographical boundaries are no barriers today if one wants to start working for foreign companies anywhere on this planet. All thanks to the massive adoption of remote work. Today, every potential employee has the freedom to choose if they want to work remotely, in a hybrid fashion, or physically.

Now, in this never-before opportunist market that is only going to get better, there arise various opportunities for the right set of people who can put the required skills to work and solve complex IP-related problems or come up with smart solutions. The following are a list of career/ job opportunities in the field of IP in the US: 

Law firms 

A law graduate (JD qualified or equivalent experience) or even law students interested in the field of IP can land jobs/ paralegal positions at various large, mid-sized, and boutique IP law firms in the US. However, one must have relevant work experience or know-how about the workings of the IP industry in the US.  

For example, Allen and Overy, IP team at California require an Associate with the following skills and qualifications1

  • Applicants with at least 2 years of IP experience and a technical degree, with a degree in computer science, preferred. 
  • Prior experience in either patent litigation or patent transactional work (including patent prosecution), or both, is also preferred; 
  • Prior experience in Patent Trial and Appeal Board proceedings is a plus. The position will involve patent litigation as well as opportunities for patent transactional work. Strong academics and admission to the California, DC, or New York Bar is required.
  • Skills involved will include strategically advising clients with respect to IP law and case strategy.
  • Ability to become an expert in certain respects of IP Litigation law through legal research, and first-hand experience
  • Ability to draft, revise, and comment on written work products, including motions and expert reports.
  • Open to learning business development i.e. personal business development plan, and its integration into the firm’s larger business development plans for Northern California, the US, and Globally.

Being well equipped with these skills can land you similar roles like the one above that too from a US-based company. 

Companies (In-house)

Working for a giant company or even a small company as an in-house counsel requires one to be the jack of all trades with the willingness to learn new things every single day. Any IP enthusiast working for a company like Apple, Google, Amazon needs to have significant experience in the IP industry and must generate experience and value after their addition as an In-house Counsel. 

A 100-year-old company called Neenah Paper, based in the USA is looking for an Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property with the following qualifications and skill set:

  • Provide (or manage the provision of) legal counsel, advice and guidance in connection with Neenah’s global operations, as directed, to ensure maximum protection of Neenah’s legal rights, mitigation of legal risks and continued legal compliance.
  • Manage Neenah’s IP portfolio, including the development, prosecution and support of patents, the development and protection of trademarks, copyrights and the documentation and protection of Neenah’s trade secrets.
  • Partner with the Innovation team to manage and provide support for the organization’s intellectual property portfolio as part of Neenah’s long-term strategy to invest in and grow.
  • Manage and drive strategy for intellectual property litigation involving patents, trademarks and trade secrets – from start to finish.
  • Provide counsel to Neenah’s business units negotiating and reviewing commercial contracts, licenses, joint development agreements and advice on general corporate matters.
  • Collaborate with and supervise outside counsel when needed.
  • Advise the company on patent and trade secret litigation-related issues.
  • Coordinate and actively participate in internal discovery activities.
  • Support Neenah’s General Counsel and other members of the senior legal department as requested in connection with other legal matters.

Independent/ Freelance Consultant (Startup ecosystem)

If one does not like the idea of working under someone else and likes being their boss and having confidence in their skill set then being a Freelancer and providing IP-based consultancy is one of the best options. It increases the value of your work and also helps in personal branding. However, the road to becoming a successful money-making freelancer is not a cakewalk. It may take months and the correct approach and guidance along with market insights to approach the correct set of people, firms, business owners who are in need of some sort of legal consultancy. 

One can start this as a side hustle where one can provide consultancy by applying to various jobs on leading freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour. Post understanding the world of freelancing one can approach startups that are in their funding stage through sites like Y-Combinator and other startup directories

Content Writing/ Blogging 

This decade is going to be one where this area will see a major boom. Content writing and blogging has become not only a passion project but also a full-time career either of which has the ability to make extra money. This not only builds a personal brand for oneself but also helps in building solid writing, research and certain technical skills. 

One can write content for blogs and have your articles published or even work remotely or full time for content writing companies working in the US and build another source of income. 

For example, Aktiv Pharma Group, a company in the US posted a job for the role of a Technical Writer, IPR.1 However, one requires solid specific knowledge in this field as can be noticed from the job responsibilities given below:

  • Drafts provisional and non-provisional patent applications focused on drug delivery devices and in particular prefilled drug delivery systems, including the associated manufacturing processes
  • Gather information on new inventions from the engineering team
  • Works with patent attorneys, patent agents, and support staff in the preparation and prosecution of patent applications
  • Assists patent attorneys in the prosecution of patent applications by interpreting office actions and drafting responses
  • Maintains a database of patents and patent applications
  • Prepare presentations and reports on company-owned intellectual property in support of investor due diligence.

This full-time job from Aktiv Pharma offers compensation between $62,000-$92,000 along with various other benefits. 

The best thing about such roles is that there is no specific qualification required as long as one is able to convince the recruiter that they have the definite skill set required for the particular job. These roles can be niche, i.e. specifically for patents, trademarks, and copyright. 

Conclusion

The global market for Intellectual Property Rights and Royalty Management was calculated to be about US$8.2 Billion in the year 2020. It is now estimated to boom to a revised size of US$16.1 Billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of a massive 12.2% over the analysis period. 

Through this article, it is (I believe) evident that there are abundant opportunities available to enter the international IP market and all we need is a set of few skills in IPR. These skills can be learned over a period of time and by understanding new developments, market growth, and target companies or opportunities. This can be done through voracious reading, research, online courses like these. Lawsikho Bootcamps like this one would also enable a person to explore what and how the IPR market is in the US. 

References


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