An Intellectual Property Attorney handles cases related to property that results from mental efforts and intellectual labor, such as inventions, logos, and works of art. Intellectual Property Attorneys deal with patents, trademarks, and copyrights for these three types of intellectual property. Some Intellectual Property Attorneys also deal with issues involving trade secrets — the formulas, patterns, and devices companies use to make their products.
Intellectual Property Attorneys draft, negotiate, interpret, and advise clients on agreements and contracts related to intellectual property (IP). Some of these topics include license agreements, non-disclosure agreements, manufacturing agreements, and supply agreements. Intellectual Property Attorneys who work for a particular company also may review company inventions and innovations to determine whether they can be patented. They would also draft and file the paperwork necessary to obtain patents for those inventions. Also, Intellectual Property Attorneys assist with franchising, distribution, and technology transfers.
Typical Duties and Responsibilities
- Draft and manage agreements involving IP, including license agreements, manufacturing agreements, and supply agreements
- Advise and counsel clients on matters related to intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights
- Draft, file and prosecute patent applications on behalf of clients
Education and Background
This position requires a Juris Doctorate as well as a license to practice law in the state where the candidate will work. Employers recommend candidates take college courses in science, engineering, and technology-related subjects. Candidates also need a passing grade on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registration examination and admission to the Patent Bar.
Skills and Competencies
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Knowledge of U.S. patent laws
- Research skills
- Analytical thinking
- Expertise in negotiation
According to Payscale the median annual salary of an Intellectual Property Attorney with
1 Year of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $85,000
- Tampa, Florida: $74,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $78,000
- Miami, Florida: $75,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $66,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $66,000
- Houston, Texas: $80,000
- Los Angeles, California: $95,000
- New York City, New York: $80,000
- Seattle, Washington: $80,000
- Overall: $78,000
5 Years of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $113,000
- Tampa, Florida: $95,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $80,000
- Miami, Florida: $85,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $90,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $80,000
- Houston, Texas: $110,000
- Los Angeles, California: $99,000
- New York City, New York: $90,000
- Seattle, Washington: $90,000
- Overall: $94,000
Similar Job Titles
- Patent Attorney
- IP Attorney
- Trademark Attorney
- Copyright Attorney
Intellectual Property Attorneys must have a Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school and a license to practice law in the state where they work. They will also need to be admitted to the Patent Bar. A bachelor’s degree is required to pursue a J.D. degree. College coursework in subjects like science, engineering, and other technology subjects is preferred.
Most attorneys start in law firms as associates, then progress on either a partner or non-partner track, leading to positions as Partners, Senior Attorneys, or of counsel. Corporations can also employ some Intellectual Property Attorneys, engineering and technology firms, or media companies.
Intellectual property is incredibly valuable to companies. Since there are always new developments in science and technology, the need for Intellectual Property Attorneys who specialize in those topics is increasing. Even in times of economic uncertainty, people keep imagining, creating, and inventing, so the need for Intellectual Property Attorneys tends to be unaffected by economic twists and turns.
According to the career planning website The Balance Careers, the internet’s prevalence in daily life has led to a growth in intellectual property crimes such as internet piracy and cybersquatting, which is the act of registering a domain on the internet to profit from the goodwill of someone else’s trademark. Intellectual Property Attorneys working in the field say other trademark issues could have major impacts on IP law. For example, an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision involves whether adding “.com” to a generic mark constitutes a trademark, and another Supreme Court case concerns the ability to copyright a software interface.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for attorneys is expected to grow by six percent between 2018 and 2028, which is as fast as average.
The work hours in an office setting for an Intellectual Property Attorney are usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, many attorneys work more than 40 hours a week, especially when nearing deadlines or preparing for court proceedings.
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