Contrary to what you may believe, protecting your business’ intellectual property (IP) doesn’t stop at registering with the Copyright Office or the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Defending your intellectual property rights is an ongoing process that will continue well into the future.
Given how obscure a legal concept IP is, it’s best left to those who properly understand it. That’s why you need the services of the best IP lawyers to help you protect, manage and enforce the law. Here’s what the best intellectual property lawyers can do for your business.
What the Best IP Lawyers Can Do for You
There are numerous reasons why you should consider hiring an IP lawyer for your business. Here are some of them:
IP is a rather abstract concept which makes it hard for the ordinary person to grasp, and even harder to determine what the value of a particular IP is. IP law isn’t just about protecting what matters to you, but it also encompasses what matters to others.
Pinning a value to a particular IP means different things for different entities. For instance, a large multinational corporation has the economic muscle to distribute their products and services at a much larger scale than, say, a local SME. That puts them at a higher risk for IP infringement since their products and services are widely accessible.
It, therefore, means that they have to go to greater lengths to protect their IP against infringement since the losses they would incur as a result are much higher than that of a locally-owned business. IP attorneys in California or any other part of the country can help to determine what the value of your IP is, whether you’re running an SME or a large enterprise.
A critical part of defending your IP involves understanding the laws that govern it. Without professional legal help from IP attorneys in Texas or the specific state you’re from, you can’t understand the full extent of patent law, copyright law, and trademark law.
You’ll believe that an IP lawyer vs patent attorney both mean the same thing. While they do, to some extent, the latter deals with a specialized area of IP law. More specifically patent infringement and patent applications.
An IP lawyer is equipped to help you understand the different types of IP law you need to protect your business. For instance, if you’re not sure whether to go for a service mark or a trademark, a trademark attorney can help you explore both options exhaustively, effectively detailing the pros and cons of each.
Regardless of what commodity your company produces, there’s a high likelihood that it is generating and using a substantial amount of intellectual property. For instance, every SME has a trading name and multiple trademarks that need protecting. It likely has original product designs and unique sales tactics it uses to bump-up its revenue.
Hiring IP attorneys in Florida, for instance, will help you identify all the different intellectual assets your business is sitting on to help prevent outside parties both with and without the state, from stealing your hard work. There’s a good chance that you’re not aware of the gold mine you could potentially be sitting on.
Before you can claim your IP you need to first establish whether it is available for patenting in the first place. While you can easily log on to Google and do a patent search for commodities that might be related to yours, the reality is it’s not enough to go on.
You need access to multiple databases to do a thorough search. Only IP attorneys in Pennsylvania and other regions in the US would be able to do this for you. They can search for patents similar to yours in advanced databases. Their reach extends to resources that are focused on international patents as well, to avoid any potential IP infringement that might occur.
Non-disclosure agreements which are sometimes referred to as confidentiality agreements allow companies to share their IP with other parties that need to give their input without jeopardizing the intellectual assets in question. It constitutes a legally binding contract between your company and the other party where you agree to share specific information related to your IP with them.
They, in turn, agree not to disclose this information to any other entity (or person). For instance, assume that you’re developing a new product or adding a new feature to an existing product. You’ve reached a point in the process where you need to employ the skills of an expert to advise on how to proceed.
You not only need to ensure that they have all the necessary information they require to do their job but you also have to make certain that they do not disclose that information to a competitor. You need to retain the services of IP attorneys in Colorado or your home state to craft air-tight agreements that bear serious legal repercussions should the external parties breach the terms of the contracts. Additionally, they would work to ensure that all your corporate paperwork including contracts, licenses, and agreements support your IP.
Securing Your IP
The application process for trademarks copyrights or patents can be quite lengthy. For this reason, an IP lawyer specifically a patent or copyright attorney can file an application that serves as a placeholder for the duration that you pursue its registration.
How to find the best intellectual property lawyer: Know where to look
With all the complexities involved in the IP realm, it is important to find the best trademark, copyright or patent attorney to secure your business’ intellectual assets. Here’s how to go about it.
In this digital age, the internet is the first stop when trying to get information about anything. Naturally, when looking for the best IP attorneys in Washington or anywhere else in the country, going online to search for qualified IP lawyers is your best bet.
Using a credible online legal service to connect you with the best lawyers is not only convenient but also affordable compared to searching using the more traditional methods.
Consult the Bar Association
The local bar association in your area is an invaluable resource when it comes to finding the best IP attorneys in Maryland or any other state to protect and manage your intellectual assets. You’ll be able to get a comprehensive list of IP lawyers in your respective city and state along with their contact information.
Almost every business has some form of IP. Talk to other business owners in your locality and learn about their experiences when hiring an IP lawyer.
While you certainly shouldn’t talk to your competitors about their IP lawyer (or use their attorneys for that matter since there will be an obvious case of conflict of interest there), you can talk to other businesses and get references from them. It’s a great way to ensure that you’re retaining the best IP attorneys for your company.
Narrow down Your Choices by Asking the Right Questions
Once you’ve built a solid list of the top IP attorneys in DC (or the entire country if you are particularly motivated), based on the findings of your research, you’ll need to pick the right one. Here are a few ways you can use to narrow down your search.
Be Clear on What You Want
First, you need to be clear on what your business’ needs are. What are the intellectual property issues that you believe your business needs professional help with? For instance, what’s your reason for filing for a copyright, patent or trademark?
Do you want to challenge another company’s IP? Do you need to aggressively defend your own? Is the attorney willing to discuss all your needs exhaustively?
Any great lawyer should be willing to discuss all your business’ needs with you in a consultation. They will then let you know if you’ll make a good fit or recommend someone else who will. Their hard-earned reputation is on the line just as much as your IP is.
Ask for References
While there’s nothing wrong with working with a fresh-out-of-law-school IP attorney, you certainly don’t want to be the first IP case they’re handling. You need to work with someone who has a little grease on their elbows.
So look for a firm that has extensively handled IP cases similar to yours. The best IP attorneys in New York or any other part of the country will be more than happy to share with you a list of their happy clients to hear what they have to say about their services. Testimonials go a long way in painting the true picture of the lawyer you’re about to work with.
The other elements you need to consider when choosing the top IP attorneys is how long they’ve been in business for and compare this against their legacy of wins. The numbers also need to make sense.
For instance, if you come across a copyright and patent infringement attorney who’s been in practice for the past two decades, their legacy of wins needs to reflect this fact. If you find out that in 20 years they’ve only won a handful of cases out of the hundreds they’ve tried, chances are they’re not the right fit for your business.
On the other hand, if you come across an IP attorney who’s been practicing for 10 years with a track record that reflects an 80 percent success rate, then that’s the one you need to go with.
State bar associations keep a record of all complaints and disciplinary actions taken against members of their association. This information is available for public scrutiny. Look up the lawyers to verify their qualifications and see if they have a clean record.
Also, check to see if IP law is listed as one of their areas of expertise and if they are licensed to practice in your state. It also helps to check if they are active members of any professional organizations and if they have any recently published any IP papers in respected legal journals.
It’s important to bear in mind that all professional services come with a significant price tag attached to them. While you may not have tons of money to spend on retaining a great copyright infringement attorney, for instance, you definitely shouldn’t go for the cheapest option either.
Issues that have to do with defending challenges to your IP can be quite costly but once you secure it, it will all have been worth it in the end. With that said, here are a few tips to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
- IP laws are effective nationwide. You, therefore, don’t have to limit your search for an IP lawyer to your area.
- Regardless of the attorney you choose to retain, their representation will only be as good as the information you provide. To get the most out of them, you need to be forthcoming with information. For instance, ship them a prototype to help them understand what your patent is all about.
- Ensure that you get everything in writing. Don’t rely on verbal agreements. If it wasn’t written, it didn’t happen. So you need to detail the expected services, billing terms and deadlines.
- If you feel like they’ve overcharged you for their services, bring this up immediately. You can discuss alternative billing arrangements if the current one won’t suffice. Once again, document the outcome of these conversations.
- List all the questions you have for your IP lawyer in an email. This will prove to be a more cost-effective way to interact with them than through a phone call. Remember, as you’re rambling on about all the clarifications you need they’ll still bill you by the hour. Emails also provide you with documentary proof in case any areas of contention arise in the future.
Curb Infringement to Win Big
If you’re looking to protect and manage your IP, then securing it with patents, copyrights and trademarks is a necessary part of running your business. Regardless of the type of IP you have, getting the best intellectual property attorney who’s ready to go to bat for you when another party infringes on it gives your business an edge over its competitors.
Additionally, they can help you recoup damages that could run upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. Either way, it’s a win-win for your business.
If you have more legal questions, you can also chat online with a Laws101.com attorney where you’ll be instantly connected to a lawyer who can give you legal guidance on your specific case or question.