How an IP Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Intellectual Property Rights

A business’s intellectual property (IP) rights can make up some of its most valuable assets. In today’s technology-heavy world, intellectual property rights are becoming increasingly critical. It is becoming easier and easier for both businesses and individuals to use another person’s or company’s intellectual property, whether accidental or purposeful. As a result, protecting those rights is more essential today than ever before—and having a professional to assist can be highly beneficial.

Defining Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property can include a wide range of business assets. Business owners might be surprised to learn that the definition of intellectual property is truly comprehensive and expansive. Examples of intellectual property for a business might include:

  • New product ideas
  • Business, products, or service names
  • Inventions
  • Specific procedures, processes, or methods unique to a company or product
  • Logos, symbols, or phrases that define the business or its products
  • Artwork, including drawings and music
  • Any written creation, such as a novel or even product manuals

At its core, intellectual property is anything that is the result of creativity. The person or entity that creates the item, product, name, or artwork automatically has rights to it. However, formal intellectual property protections take this ownership one step further—the creator or owner can register their intellectual property to give it additional legal protections at both the federal and state levels. 

How an IP Attorney Can Help with Intellectual Property Rights

An IP attorney can help you with all aspects of intellectual property law, from registering the IP to taking steps to protect it if someone else starts using it. When you first develop an idea, using an experienced IP attorney can mean the difference between making money from an invention or having the idea stolen with little to no recourse. Below are just a few roles that IP attorneys fill to address IP protections. 

Address Infringement or Theft

An IP attorney can defend an individual or company’s intellectual property rights by taking legal action to stop theft or misuse. This process usually starts by sending a cease-and-desist letter to demand that the third party stop using the intellectual property. If the misuse continues, an IP attorney can start a lawsuit to request an order from the court to stop the use (injunction). That lawsuit can also request damages to compensate the true owner of the intellectual property for any monetary damages they have suffered because of the third party’s actions. 

Conduct Due Diligence for New Intellectual Property 

Before using new IP, an individual or company should do a comprehensive search to ensure that no one else has already registered the same intellectual property. If there is another registration, continuing to use that IP can be a violation of someone else’s rights, which can lead to legal concerns, even where the use was not meant to copy or steal someone else’s IP.

An IP attorney will do in-depth research, often starting with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, to determine if there are any concern areas with using a new logo, new trade name, or new artwork. They will determine if a copyright, trademark, or patent already exists for the same or similar intellectual property. The IP attorney will share the search results with their client, so they can determine whether they want to move forward with using that IP. The IP attorney will also provide a recommendation and address any risks or concerns with all registration options. 

Protect Trade Secrets

Many companies overlook that their trade secrets need protection from third parties. Trade secrets like methods, customer lists, product development plans, and product manufacturing procedures are all critical parts of their business. However, not every trade secret will qualify for registration or patent protection.

Nonetheless, an IP lawyer can help companies explore other options to protect this type of vital information, whether that includes formal registration or patenting, or simply drafting a non-disclosure agreement. An experienced IP attorney will assist businesses in determining the best way to protect these vital company assets. 

Help with the Registration Process

An IP attorney can also help with registering new IP. The registration process can be cumbersome, daunting, and confusing, especially for individuals or entities that have never gone through the registration process before. An experienced intellectual property lawyer will draft the correct paperwork and assist with phrasing the application, which often increases the odds that registration or patent gains approval soon after it is submitted. 

Some ideas cannot be registered or patented because they do not meet the formal definition to obtain this type of protection. An IP lawyer can review any registration or patent that you are considering to help determine whether registration or patenting the idea is actually an option. 

Licensing and Royalties

Once you have a registered trademark or copyright, an individual or company might want to sell limited rights to it so that others can use it. These arrangements generally involve a license and payment of royalties to the entity that owns the intellectual property. These agreements may seem straightforward, but they can be very complicated. Proper drafting is critical in these arrangements to ensure that a third party does not misuse or overuse the rights they gained as part of a license. 

IP lawyers can often help negotiate license and royalty agreements. They can also draft these agreements and take steps to enforce them if one party ignores the terms or oversteps their rights under the agreement. 


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