An estimated 12,000 intellectual property cases are filed every year. Of roughly 1.3 million licensed US attorneys, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) records identify only about 34,000 registered patent attorneys.
What is intellectual property? What laws surround it? What does it mean to protect it?
Why work to protect it? And if you want to, where do you begin in the world of IP Law?
Defining Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property law is the category of law that protects and enforces the rights of creators and inventors. It encompasses anything created: music, art, designs, and other works.
Four main categories of intellectual property law exist:
- Trade secrets
Copyright laws protect original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.
Patent laws protect new inventions or ways of doing something. It provides exclusion; no one outside of the inventor can sell patented work.
Trade secrets protect confidential information that runs the risk of getting sold or licensed. This generally applies to companies and business practices.
Trademark laws deal with identification. It protects words, symbols, logos, phrases, and more that are used to identify and distinguish a merchant or manufacturer.
How do intellectual property lawyers protect all of these tangible and intangible creations? They help people file for that protection, whether it is a patent or trademark. Filing for these matters involves detailed analysis of technical material. IP lawyers review or produce important documents involved in the making of a patent or trademark; advocate in court for clients in proceedings; and can advise and counsel on IP matters as well.
How to Become an IP Law Attorney
If protecting the creatives and the business information of the world ignites your fire, then working in intellectual property is a tenable career path for you.
To become an intellectual property lawyer, the steps are the same as becoming an attorney. You need to attend law school and pass the bar exam. In law school, be sure to specialize. Choose a law school that offers a robust IP curriculum and faculty expertise. Apply for summer internships with law firms that work in intellectual property law. Once you graduate, the experience makes you a more desirable candidate for a full-time role in IP law. You may even get an offer from an externship firm before you graduate!
How Golden Gate University Can Help
For those looking to become intellectual property lawyers, Golden Gate University is ideal. Here are the top three reasons:
- Our intellectual property law specialty track
- Our flexible hybrid JD program
- Our networking opportunities.
Our new hybrid JD Flex program lets you earn an ABA-accredited law degree in less than four years, even if you’re working full-time. It blends online coursework with in-person coursework, letting you ease law school into your life without having to sacrifice other obligations.
Our intellectual property law career track lets you graduate with a competitive edge in a range of careers, including in intellectual property, technology, data privacy, and general commercial practice. The school’s Intellectual Property Law Center is a wealth of resources for students to use, even after they graduate.
GGU, located in San Francisco, is a hub of technology and innovation — making it the perfect place to launch a career in IP law. Students and alumni tap into that network to begin and enrich their careers.
Contact our admissions office today to get started.