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What do IP lawyers do?

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IP lawyers operate in a very specific area of law

They are unique in their ability to help businesses tap into their intangible assets. Here's what you need to know.

Images of several marble busts at the end of library corridors.

Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

Words by Dr Martin Douglas Hendry

Intellectual property (IP) law is an increasingly important area of law in today's world, where creativity and innovation play a vital role in business and society. IP law protects a wide range of creative and innovative works, from inventions and literary works to logos and product designs. In the UK, IP law is governed by the Intellectual Property Office, which administers and enforces the various forms of IP rights, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

In this post, we will explore the role of IP lawyers and what they do to protect their clients' IP rights.


What is IP Law?


IP law is the branch of law that deals with the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. These rights allow creators and owners of IP to control and benefit from their creations. In the UK, the main forms of IP rights are patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

Patents protect new and innovative products and processes and give the owner the exclusive right to use and exploit the invention for a limited period of time. Trademarks protect logos, names, and other distinctive signs that identify and distinguish products and services. Copyrights protect literary, artistic, and musical works, and give the owner the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and perform the work. Trade secrets protect confidential information, such as business secrets, formulas, and recipes, that give a business a competitive advantage.


Role of IP Lawyers


IP lawyers play a crucial role in protecting and enforcing their clients' IP rights. They advise clients on IP matters, such as how to secure and maintain IP rights, how to enforce IP rights against infringement, and how to license and monetize IP rights. IP lawyers also conduct IP due diligence to assess the validity, enforceability, and potential infringement of IP rights.

IP lawyers draft, negotiate and enforce IP agreements, such as licensing agreements, joint venture agreements, and settlement agreements. They also represent clients in IP litigation, such as patent infringement lawsuits, trademark disputes, and copyright infringement claims.

It is notable that trade mark attorney and patent attorney are separate professions - which focus on the registration of trade marks and patents respectively. These are subject to their own expertise and knowledge, and as such are considered their own disciplines. Despite this IP lawyers collaborate closely with trade mark and patent attorneys in order to help businesses secure their intangible assets.


Skills and Qualifications required for IP Lawyers


To become an IP lawyer in the UK, you need to have a strong educational background in law and a good understanding of IP law. A law degree and postgraduate qualifications in IP law are generally required, and many IP lawyers also have technical backgrounds in science, engineering, or other technical fields.

In addition to legal and technical skills, IP lawyers need to have strong interpersonal and communication skills. They need to be able to advise clients on complex legal issues and negotiate IP agreements with other parties. They also need to be able to represent clients in court and argue IP cases effectively.

Once the academic qualifications are in place, it is typical for professionals to seek a training contract within either a specialist intellectual property firm, or a large firm who can offer a seat in intellectual property as part of the training process. Once qualification as a solicitor is completed, IP solicitors tend to then specialise in the area, as it requires a depth of unique expertise and experience to do well.


Career Opportunities for IP Lawyers


IP lawyers can work in a variety of settings, including private law firms, in-house at companies, and in government agencies. Many IP lawyers choose to specialize in a particular area of IP law, such as patent law, trademark law, or copyright law.

There are also entrepreneurial opportunities for IP lawyers, such as starting their own IP law firms or providing IP consulting services.




IP law is a complex and dynamic area of law that is essential for protecting and enforcing the creative and innovative works of individuals and businesses. IP lawyers play a crucial role in advising and representing clients on IP matters and helping to protect and enforce their IP rights.

If you are interested in becoming an IP lawyer in the UK, it is important to have a strong educational background, technical skills, legal skills, and interpersonal and communication skills. There are many career opportunities in this field, including working in private law firms, in-house at companies, and in government agencies, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities.

In conclusion, the field of IP law offers a rewarding and challenging career for those who are interested in protecting and enforcing the creative and innovative works of individuals and businesses. If you have a passion for law and a commitment to protecting IP rights, a career as an IP lawyer may be the right path for you.


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Look at our other guides that relate to this topic here.

What is meant by intellectual property and why is it an important issue today?

The importance of trademark registration in your business

What happens if you use a trade mark without permission



Virtuoso Legal is a team of intellectual property specialists based in Leeds and London - operating worldwide. Virtuoso Legal's team of IP experts have successfully tried cases in the IPEC, High Court, Court of Appeals and United Kingdom Supreme Court. In addition, the team assist companies in creating, commercialising and protecting the big ideas that make their business unique. The firm and its professionals are ranked yearly in legal directories such as the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, cementing their status as a Top 2% law firm in the world.

DISCLAIMER: The content within this post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Virtuoso Legal does not take any responsibility for those that use this information and waives any liability for any resulting effect on your personal or commercial circumstances.

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