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What is an IP Law Firm? Everything You Need To Know


Dec 12, 2022 #Law

IP Law is a type of legal service which revolves around ‘intellectual property’ or IP. Intellectual property comprises a wide variety of different things such as patents, trademarks, copyrights and designs and refers to anything you’ve created and legally insured against people who may try to copy it. 

In this article, we’ll go over what an IP law firm is, what they do and the types of intellectual property they protect. 

IP Litigation Law Firm

A litigator is a type of lawyer who defends one side of a party during a dispute in court or legal discussions. An IP litigator will be employed at an IP law firm to help with any issues arising from IP infringement.

Litigation is an important legal service for intellectual property, as many people will need IP litigation services when someone infringes on their intellectual property rights or has accidentally infringed on someone else’s. 

An IP litigation intelligence service can also help businesses to avoid the latter by using databases to check if anyone already has a claim to a specific type of IP. This can help avoid any lawsuits and possible damage to reputation. It can also help to find opportunities for IP buy-outs, transferring the ownership of an existing invention to someone else. 

Townsville Lawyers Connolly Suthers note that to fully understand what an IP law firm does, it’s important to understand the type of legal services they protect. Some of the most common types of IP law include:

Patent Law 

Patents are a type of IP which protects an invention. Inventors of a product will apply for a patent via their government, giving them the legal rights to take action against anyone who produces a copied design or a design too derivative of their own. There are three main types of patents: 

  • Utility Patents – protect an invention with a specific function, for example, a machine, a type of technology, or a new chemical. 
  • Design Patents – not to be confused with ‘trademarks’, which protect branding and aesthetics, ‘design patents’ protect the physical make-up of an invention from being copied. These are commonly used to protect industrial designs. 
  • Plant Patents – plant patents are a little less common and are used primarily by scientific communities. They protect plants that can asexually reproduce and hybrids. A plant patent can be given to two inventors: the one who discovered the plant and the one who asexually reproduced it.

A common misconception about patents is that they are attributed to a creator as soon as they launch their product. A patent must be applied for and approved by a Government body before an invention can be claimed and sold. It also must be up-kept throughout the years by paying renewal fees. 

Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works are not protected by patents but instead fall under ‘copyright law’ as their legal protection. 

What it protects: The legal rights to the physical make-up of an invention. 

What it doesn’t protect: It is important to note that a patent can’t give you the legal rights to a ‘way of thinking’ such as a mathematical equation or a way of doing business. It also can’t protect specific things that do good human services, such as a method of medical treatment or diagnosis, as these should be shared without being marketed as a product. 

Trademark Law 

Trademarking, in many ways, is the other side of the coin to Patenting. 

While a patent protects the physical make-up of an invention, trademarking protects the branding and visual elements of the invention. Trademark law is more about securing your brand reputation and consumer awareness than patent law, which is about securing the legal rights to the product itself. 

For example, when you think of the famous jewellery store ‘Tiffany’s’, you think of the colour ‘Tiffany’s blue‘ because they’ve trademarked that specific shade and packaging, so other brands can not use it. 

While you can trademark things like this which are hyper-specific to your brand association, you could not trademark the colour ‘blue’ as a whole, as there is no way to prove that that is synonymous with your business alone. 

Like a Patent, you file a trademark with your government. After looking at various forms of proof that your idea is original, it is issued as a form of legal protection. 

What it protects: Branding that is specific to your organisation or product. For example, business names, marks, slogans, aesthetic designs, colours and art. 

What it doesn’t protect: The legal rights to the physical make-up of an invention. Generalised colours or words must be specific to your brand to be valid as brand associations. 

Copyright Law 

Copyright law can be slightly more complicated than patent and trademark law, as it doesn’t necessarily require a legally registered copyright to be recognised. 

For example, if a small creator records a song and puts it on a streaming service – that song is their intellectual property. Suppose a bigger creator copies the song, pretends it is their work and begins profiting from it. In that case, the original creator could sue them for infringing on their materials without permission. 

Generally, for any work of art that you want to take ‘public’, it is wise to pursue legal copyright once you have the means to do it. This will help you gain exclusive rights to display your work publicly and prevent others from doing derivative work without your consent. 

What it projects: ‘Expressive art’ such as, writing, music, motion pictures, photography, painting and architecture. 

What it doesn’t protect: Theories or ideas. To be copyrighted, something must exist demonstrably. For example, you can’t take legal action against someone for copying a theory you’ve only ever had in your head or a notebook at home, but you could if you’d published it online. You must be able to show court proof that your idea came first. 

Why Might I Need An IP Law Firm? 

Simply put, if someone tries to take an idea you’ve legally protected, you will need an IP law firm to help you take legal action against them. IP law ensures that you maintain credit for the work you’ve put into creating something and that nobody can take that away from you. 

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