legal practice areas

Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property (IP) law relates to the establishment and protection of intellectual creations such as inventions, designs, brands, artwork and music.

These rights are established, protected, enforced and promoted through means such as patents (usually for such things as technical inventions), trademarks (for goods and services), copyright (music, art and literature) and designs (products and logos).

What does an intellectual property lawyer do?

Lawyers tend to specialise in either contentious or non-contentious IP. Non-contentious work involves checking and registering client’s rights through, for example, patents and trademarks, as well as drafting commercial agreements to issue licences that allow others to use those rights.

Contentious work is required when a client’s rights have been infringed or abused in any way, for example, when counterfeit products are being sold or music is used illegally.

What skills are required?

Clients can range from unknown individuals with a brilliant idea to patent, through to pharmaceutical giants and famous artists. IP lawyers need to build a rapport with a wide range of different people, and be able to think commercially and from a client’s point of view.

Lawyers in this practice area need to understand the complex and technical language – many IP lawyers have previous relevant experience in other fields like science, technology and medicine. Attention to detail is vital as is the ability to manage huge volumes of paperwork alongside some tight deadlines.

IP work is likely to involve commercial law and litigation so it’s a good idea to look at the skills required for those areas too.

Useful links

The following student guides have useful information on working in intellectual property law: LawCareers.net, Chambers and Partners Student Guide and Target Law.

Intellectual Property Office – Information on the Intellectual Property industry.