In this article – Choosing IPR as a Career Option, the author shall discuss some of the opportunities and benefits in pursuing a career as an IPR lawyer or even as an IP professional.  I. Introduction In today’s day and age of technological revolution, the scope of IPR has achieved unimaginable heights. IP is the most valuable asset… Read More »

In this article – Choosing IPR as a Career Option, the author shall discuss some of the opportunities and benefits in pursuing a career as an IPR lawyer or even as an IP professional.

I. Introduction

In today’s day and age of technological revolution, the scope of IPR has achieved unimaginable heights. IP is the most valuable asset present in the world today and people are fast realizing that this is where the future lies. With the world’s focus shifting from manufacturing to a knowledge economy, IP which is the nucleus of this type of AN economy has attained the status of one of the most critical professional segments today. A look at the world’s biggest companies like Apple, Microsoft, etc., reveals that they are all very rich in IP assets. Also, the economic power of a nation is also highly dependent on whether it has a strong IP regime.

For instance, the USA is a superpower in the world and much of its power can be credited to their strong IP regime. In comparison, the scope for IPR in India is only at a nascent stage and people are only becoming aware of the huge potential that IP has to offer.

In addition to big corporates, small businesses are familiarizing themselves with various forms of IP rights and realizing the endless opportunities and rights available to them. As a result, the scope for experts in the field of IPR has skyrocketed and is one of the most dynamic, fast-paced and exciting careers one can choose. There is a vast ocean of opportunities which are awaiting IP lawyers in today’s world. Law firms and companies are looking for lawyers who have the technical expertise and are familiar with the nuances of IP.

The duty of an intellectual property lawyer is to deal with legal rights concerning intellectual and creative innovations and works. A lawyer of intellectual property defends the freedom of people who invent or create creative things to profit from their art or work. An intellectual property lawyer is required to handle diverse areas including copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial design rights, duplication, or infringement, trade dress, trade secret and plant variety rights among many others. What is absolutely essential in an IPR professional is a knack for innovation and creativity, irrespective of the IPR segment one is dealing with.

II. Reasons to Pursue a career as an IPR lawyer

  • IP is a recession-proof career

We are going through a phase of severe economic recession globally. Several sectors have been hit by the same and have had to let go of a huge chunk of their workforce. However, IP is an area wherein the impact of the global recession is minimal. It’s because innovation and inventions are part of human development, and therefore intellectual property lawyers will always be needed to protect ideas and ownership of inventions.

Even if some law practices are affected by the recession, such as investment law, property law or capital market, the field of intellectual property law will continue to grow. For a developing country like India, the scale of development which will be attained in the future will highly depend on IP development. Moreover, the fact that companies and state up have realized the value of enforcement of their IP rights directly impacts the growth rate and demand for IP lawyers.

People are nowadays keen to protect their patents, copyrights, trademarks, designs etc, thereby skyrocketing the demand for efficient and able IP lawyers.

  • It is an interdisciplinary field

One major advantage of pursuing a career in IP field which permeates through various sectors and industries, thereby providing very dynamic and happening career prospects. From science and technology to business, economics, management and law, IP pervades several streams, and success as an IP professional requires a good understanding, if not specialization, in more than one stream. Thus, as a lawyer in this field, it will be a huge learning opportunity for that person.

An IP lawyer will be up to date with not just the legal side of things but the technological and management aspect as well. Choosing to pursue a career as an IP lawyer will provide him/her with exposure to new technologies. Companies in the IP industry deal with technologies of the future (the technologies that might be commercialized in the next 15 to 30 years). This is the single point that attracts students during campus placements.

  • Lucrative pay

One of the major reasons to pursue a career in IP is obviously the salary prospects. With the growing importance of IP, law firms are eager to hire students and lawyers who are interested in IP law. Top tier law firms are increasingly hiring IP specialized lawyers to cater to the needs of their growing client base. IP lawyers, especially those with expertise in patent law are of high demand and are offered very good packages by firms.

  • Attain significant career growth

IP law is one such area of law wherein the special skills and a good grasp of the subject coupled with diligence and hard work enable a person to quickly climb the career ladder. In spite of the fact that a person might have only a few years of experience, his ability to successfully understand and analyse the IP industry and successfully tackle the technological hurdles will make him an indispensable asset.

  • It’s not one size fits all

You have the option of choosing any vertical of the IP industry depending on your aptitude. People with an analytical mind can choose the analytics team in the IP industry. Those who are inclined towards writing can get into drafting, while the ones who thrive on challenges can get into patent prosecution wherein they can identify technical loopholes in patents and make an argument for prosecuting patents. Patent lawsuits are not always won by the one who is right rather by the one who makes the right argument.

  • New challenges every day

In the product-driven industry, everyone is focused on only a particular product, while in the IP industry there are new challenges every day. People who fear monotony at work can benefit from this. For instance, while working on a client’s project, you may come across an idea that can be considered for patent protection. This way you not only solve the client’s current problem but also add value by offering proactive solutions.

III. Career Opportunities: IPR as a Career Option

There are a plethora of options available for an IP lawyer. A career in Intellectual Property Rights is a secure one. An intellectual property professional can opt to become a specialist in one of the many Intellectual Property areas. They are so many in number that discussing all of them in one article is next to impossible. However, some of the prominent career options are discussed below:

  • Litigation

Litigation is an evergreen field. One just needs to give time and work hard to make a name. Due to the dynamic nature of IP law, there is an alignment of focus by the judiciary on this area of law also. The lifespan of an IP lawsuit in the commercial courts if functional is comparable to highly ranked jurisdictions of the world. Moreover, IP litigation has a wild landscape, concentrated in the High Courts of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. In terms of volume, trademark litigations are at the top followed by copyright and patent.

  • Options in the field of Patent

Many a time, IP lawyers and other professional refer to the patent option as “Hard IP” and the non-patent option as “Soft IP”. This is because patent as a career option often requires a background in science and/or technology, while pursuing a career in fields of IP such as trademarks and copyrights do not require any science or technology background. This difference is however being obliterated by the day with the increasing merger of creativity with technology. Some of the best options available to an aspiring patent professional includes:

  • Patent Attorneys: Their main job includes registration of patent applications, contract negotiation and management, non-contractual drafting, brand management, portfolio management, enforcement of IP rights and filing suits for infringement.
  • Patent Searcher / Patent Analyst: Patent Searcher or Patent analyst is someone who reviews the content of a patent (or patent application) and produces a clear, concise patent summary. This patent summary not only describes the invention, but it also incorporates information about any prior art, current and potential uses for the invention. Patent searching helps in patent drafting and also helps to get the patent registration smoothly with the patent office. The purpose of patent searching is to avoid litigation or other relevant legal issues in the future. Most patent analysts have special training in a scientific or engineering field – or they are certified patent agents, although their work often more than multiple disciplines, including law and marketing.
  • IP Paralegal: IP Paralegals job profile is to prepare forms for patents, trademark, or copyright application, which are directly filed to the Patent Office & Trademark Offices. IP Paralegals work for law offices, corporations, institutions, and government agencies assisting with intellectual property litigation, and also performing related intellectual property search.
  • Patent Docketing: Patent docketing is a method or system for managing the patent application process. Patent docketing is a particularly crucial processing or skill for patent law firms because a patent docketing job involves keeping track of the many deadlines and documents or else it can be difficult to manage the patent application process of hundreds of patents. Many large patent law firms employ docketing specialists to manage the patent docketing process. The patent docketing is also performed by an expert personnel by using appropriate software. Patent docketing experts must have knowledge of the various countries’ IPR laws.
  • Patent proof-reader: Patent proofreading is arguably the most important final step in the process of getting a patent. After the patent draft is finalized, the patent specification must be proofread. Proofreading helps filter out any errors that might have gone unnoticed while drafting the specification. It also helps in mitigating any harm that could have been the outcome of the errors in the patent draft. Further, during the prosecution of the patent application, many errors occur in the patent draft, which can be very dangerous in future litigation.

IV. Places to Work as an IP Lawyer

  • Law firms

The best IPR Law firms are mostly boutique law firms. They can have smaller teams in comparison with say a corporate transactions team of a tier 1 law firm. Big law firms also have IPR teams, but they are usually small and often gets paid far less than the corporate lawyers in the firm. India has a number of law firms that are specialized in IPR exclusively and cater to the huge corporate market which is rising every single year. Securing jobs in law firms like Anand & Anand, Khaitan & Co, Remfry & Sagar, etc., will provide a very fulfilling career

  • Companies

Most companies require IP lawyers, if not specialized ones, then at least general in-house lawyers who also have to do IP work. In sectors like media and entertainment, technology, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, sports and broadcasting, movies, music, publishing etc. IP lawyers are in great demand and these companies often require large IP law teams.

  • IPR thinktanks

There are many IPR, technology, competition law and internet related thinktanks that need to hire IPR lawyers in large numbers for research and policy-related work.

  • Litigators

IP litigation is steadily on the rise, especially when it comes to trademark-related disputes. Patents and copyright prosecutions and disputes are also on the rise. It is the best time in history to be IPR litigator, also because most IP lawyers are concentrated on other kinds of work.

  • IP Monitoring services

In recent times IP rights monitoring services have become very prominent and profitable. Large MNCs and IP owners appoint monitoring agencies all over the world whose job is to keep a check on who is misusing such intellectual property and taking legal action to recover any illegal profits and prevent further misuse of copyright, trademark or patent. They prevent counterfeit products, catch illegal copies, detect misuse of copyright and then take legal action as per pre-approved mandates. A large number of lawyers can get employment in such IP monitoring service providers.

V. Conclusion

To conclude, it is evident that in a technologically savvy world, there is immense scope for a career as an IP attorney. Since technology is evolving at an exponential rate, an IP attorney needs to be nimble and agile to stay one step ahead in the learning curve. The IPR professionals who continuously build expertise and remain relevant in this dynamic world have great earning potential.

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Updated On 15 Dec 2020 10:56 AM GMT
Fathima Mehendi

Fathima Mehendi

5th Year law student at National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi

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