What Does an Intellectual Property Lawyer Do?

intellectual property lawyer

As with other professions, the legal profession offers many different areas of law that an attorney may practice. One of those areas of practice is intellectual property (IP). Broadly speaking, an IP attorney can protect an inventor’s rights when it comes to ideas and materials. There are six different areas of IP law that an attorney may practice. Numerous types of legal issues may fall within these six categories. So, what does an intellectual property lawyer do?

intellectual property lawyer

Patent law – An attorney can protect someone’s rights to new and practical inventions, such as car or electrical parts to less tangible inventions, such as business practices or coding algorithms. Typically, creative works are covered under copyright and trademark law, while more practical inventions must have a utility, design, or plant patent to be considered property of an individual, business, or employee. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides rights to an idea or invention.

Copyright Law

In this area of law, an attorney protects an author’s works that are creative or artistic, including but not limited to photographs, paintings, books, blogs, and musical compositions. The U.S. Copyright Office distributes copyrights of creative works.

Trademark Law

The United States Code, which includes general and permanent laws in the U.S., states that a trademark can be one or a combination of the following: “name, symbol, or design…used to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller.” Trademarks may be logos, colors, or sounds that distinguish goods or services from competitors. The mark has to be distinctive and apply to goods or services to be protected.

Trade Secrets

According to the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), a trade secret is defined as information that is not generally known and subject to efforts to maintain secrecy, which makes the information of economic value. These include client lists, business plans, and ingredients, among other categories. An attorney can help someone protect confidential information that may be licensed or sold.


Attorneys who practice licensing law may help an owner of an intellectual property protect the authorized use of his or her copyrighted work. If an intellectual property owner finds that his or her work has been reproduced without proper licensing, an intellectual property attorney can help.

Unfair competition

Unfair competition mostly deals with a business or company that has engaged in deceptive or unfair business practices which led to harmful economic consequences to individual consumers or other businesses. An IP attorney can help someone who has been accused of engaging in unfair competition or someone who has been economically harmed because of unfair competition.

Examples of famous Intellectual Property cases

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh v. The Random House Group Limited

In 2004, two authors, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, claimed that Dan Brown (author of the international best-seller novel The Da Vinci Code) had copied the “central theme” and “architecture” of their 1982 nonfiction book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. The books both have the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child, and that the bloodline continued to modern times. Baigent and Leigh accused Random House of copyright infringement. The judge ruled in Random House’s favor, however, and both authors who alleged copyright infringement did not win any damages.

Adidas America Inc. v. Payless Shoesource Inc.

In the early 90s, Adidas accused Payless of using its trademark to sell shoes. Payless was using parallel stripes on its athletic shoes. Adidas, which had registered its three-stripe trademark in 1952 eventually sued Payless for infringing the three-stripes trademark, along with trademark dilution. The two companies settled out of court and Payless was ordered to stop using the stripes on its shoes.

Apple v. Google

Patent lawsuits involving smartphone manufacturers have been going on since 2009. It is no surprise that the increasing use of and creation of new technologies have led to complex intellectual property lawsuits. For example, Apple and Google faced off for years over the Android mobile operating system, which Apple co-founder Steve Jobs called “a stolen product.” But in 2014, the two companies reached an agreement to settle patent litigation between them.

While these are high-profile cases of intellectual property disputes, other scenarios may include a photographer that notices his copyrighted photographs are being used online by a company without permission, or a business discovering that a prior employee used their client email list, along with the business plan, to start a rival company or to help a rival company grow its business. Another situation that could result in an intellectual property dispute is when a company hires someone to create a website without realizing that the coding and creation of the website do not inherently belong to the business that it was created for without a contract that says so.

What is intellectual property infringement?

Intellectual property infringement occurs when a business or person engages in the unauthorized use, sale, or creation of a piece of intellectual property, such as a protected patent, trademark, copyright, or trade secret.

What are the damages for an IP infringement lawsuit?

Intellectual property lawsuits can result in thousands of dollars in damages, an injunction against the individual or business that violated a party’s intellectual property rights, and even criminal charges. IP infringement lawsuits may settle before going to trial or result in a full trial.

What does an intellectual property lawyer do?

Most of the time, an intellectual property attorney helps an individual or business protect its intellectual property rights pertaining to copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret law. The attorney can help an individual or business obtain compensation for damages that were incurred because of the violation and/or injunctive relief against the party who has violated another party’s IP rights. These damages may include lost profits and royalties. An IP lawyer can also defend an individual or business that is wrongly accused of violating a party’s intellectual property rights and restore its reputation.

Why choose Clayton Trial Lawyers for your IP case?

We help businesses enforce their intellectual property rights and defend them in high-stakes litigation

Clayton Trial Lawyers, LP represents businesses that have had their intellectual property misappropriated. When the situation demands, we are able to take decisive and often case-determinative measures immediately upon notice of a claim. Clayton Trial Lawyers, LP’s litigation team has defended and brought motions for temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and orders to show cause when necessary to protect such rights. As a result of the diversity of experience in our practice, we have represented clients in trade secret matters in all industries throughout the United States.

We represent individuals accused of violating intellectual property rights

Clayton Trial Lawyers, LP is adequately equipped to defend those individuals wrongly accused of IP violations. Our firm is eager to help you restore your reputation by providing you with an aggressive and result-oriented defense. Our team of litigators is available around the clock to provide you with the legal advice you need and deserve during trying times. Contact us today.