Intellectual property can be extremely complex. In many cases, outcomes are likely to surprise you. Brands have been known to lose trademarks they’ve held for decades because of consumer perception, and creators of priceless inventions frequently show the public exactly how those inventions work in order to protect them. With such complexities abounding, answering the question of what intellectual property (IP) lawyers protect can be complicated.
Fortunately, attorneys experienced in intellectual property law can help in a variety of ways. From registration to litigation — and everything in between — having a legal advocate on your side can prove invaluable. This guide is meant to serve as an introductory lesson on what IP lawyers protect, but if you have intellectual property needs, a simple blog isn’t likely to provide everything you need. Contact our law firm today for assistance.
What Intellectual Property Can IP Attorneys Help You With?
There are intellectual property attorneys out there who focus on very specific areas of the IP landscape. In some cases, this means they’ll only provide services related to trademark issues. In other situations, a law firm may do nothing more than send cease and desist letters on behalf of aggrieved intellectual property owners. When you find an IP attorney that takes a broader approach, however, you’re likely to find services in the following areas:
- Patents: Patents are meant to protect novel inventions. Filing a patent for an invention excludes others from using it.
- Trademarks: Trademarks protect brand identifiers and product/service source identifiers from being misused.
- Copyright: Copyright protections safeguard original works of art once they’re put into tangible forms of media.
- Trade Secrets: Trade secrets are not registered like the aforementioned three IP types, but they still have protections.
These are the four types of intellectual property, and an attorney experienced in all of them can prove invaluable to brands, inventors, and creators. Of course, most parties don’t need all these IP protections. An author will typically need copyright registration but not trademark registration. The opposite is usually true for companies and brands. Regardless of your specific IP needs, our law firm can help protect your intellectual property.
How Do Intellectual Property Attorneys Protect IP Owners?
Even when a legal office only provides services in one area of intellectual property law, many of the tools available to them are similar. For instance, IP monitoring allows attorneys to track down instances of infringement, misuse, or misappropriation. This is essential since the government does not provide this service. While U.S. agencies do allow federal registration of intellectual property, they do not police instances of misuse. That task falls to IP owners themselves.
Of course, such protections are usually only available once properties have already been registered. That makes patent, trademark, and copyright registration services among the most effective ways that intellectual property attorneys protect inventions and other creations. Once registration is complete, they can also file litigation in order to stop infringing activities and even recover compensation for ill-gotten profits.
In some situations, simple knowledge of the law is one of the best intellectual property safeguards that an IP lawyer can provide. For instance, did you know that the classic horror film Night of the Living Dead was available to freely — and legally — distribute among the public the moment it was released? This was due to a simple oversight of the film’s distributor regarding copyright notices on films before 1989 — an oversight that an attorney likely would’ve caught.
What Else Can IP Attorneys Assist With?
In addition to registration, policing infringement, and litigation assistance, intellectual property lawyers provide a variety of other services. For instance, what if you’re in the early stages of registering a trademark? One of the first steps you should take is conducting a trademark search. This will let you know if another individual or brand is already using a similar mark or a brand identifier that yours would be confusingly similar to.
This can help in many ways. First, it allows you to change course if your trademarks are already in use. More importantly, it could help you avoid exposing yourself to litigation by essentially admitting that you’ve been using a mark that infringes on another party’s trademark. Additionally, our law firm can assist with other branding necessities to help your company grow and succeed. Not all attorneys’ offices provide such services, so reach out today for an all-in-one legal solution.
What If Someone Infringes on Your Intellectual Property?
If someone infringes on your intellectual property, there are various options available to you. Some people prefer to jump right into litigation, but this has a few disadvantages. First, this step will always be more time-consuming and costly than merely sending a cease and desist letter. Additionally, a lawsuit may result in nothing more than what a strongly worded cease and desist letter would have accomplished anyway.
However, this doesn’t mean litigation is never the right option. What if the infringing party refuses to stop their activities? What if they’ve earned substantial profits off your intellectual property and refuse to reimburse you? More importantly, what if you know without a doubt that their infringing activities were willful? An intellectual property attorney can prove invaluable in such situations by gathering necessary evidence and filing a lawsuit.
However, starting with a cease and desist letter is often the right way to go. First, it will serve as an important step in the evidentiary chain if your case does go to trial. Second, the infringer may immediately cease their actions so that there’s no need to move any further. Lastly, it’s possible that you could establish a licensing agreement with the infringer — thus securing profits for yourself. The possibilities are nearly endless, so don’t hesitate to contact an IP lawyer today.