Counterfeiters, patent infringers and Intellectual Property villains are infiltrating the business world, and someone needs to stop them. Inventors, innovators and businesses large and small need IP superheroes, and you could be one of them.
There is room for more than one superhero in the world of IP, and you don't need a cape or mask to get started. Here is an introduction to the different roles that you can have in the world of IP:
"Shadow Hunter" - anti-counterfeiting
Counterfeiters cost the global economy an estimated $250 billion a year. Their victims are businesses of all sizes, but consumers also suffer when they buy inferior, knock-off products that do not work as promised and do not last as long as the real thing. Some counterfeit products can even be deadly. Counterfeit drugs, for example, may contain no active ingredients, the wrong dose, or harmful substances, and patients usually can't tell the difference.
Law enforcement alone has not been enough to stop the flood of counterfeit goods from crossing borders and landing in the hands of unsuspecting consumers. Businesses need smart, passionate people to help them pursue existing counterfeiters and prevent new ones from entering the marketplace. Brand protection professionals are heroes to the small and large businesses who face these issues every day — they investigate counterfeiting, implement brand protection programs, develop anti-counterfeiting strategies and communicate with law enforcement — tasks that the average business owner often cannot manage alone.
"The Visionary" - patent examiner
Patent examiners have a strong background in a field of science and engineering — this makes them uniquely qualified to search and examine patent applications. Patent examiners collect information and study the technical literature to determine the patentability of an invention, and they prepare the initial report that helps the inventor or attorney decide on a course of action. These IP professionals often see technological innovation as it happens, which makes this an exciting and fascinating career path for qualified engineers and scientists.
"Doctor Inventor" - patent engineer
Even small inventions need patent protection, and the average inventor is not equipped to navigate the process without help from a qualified IP professional. Patent engineers can be heroes, too, freeing inventors from the severe burden of preparing a patent application alone. They make patent drawings and draft and file patent applications, and their work helps guarantee the best possible outcome for their clients.
A background in science or engineering uniquely qualifies a patent engineer to help clients secure the patents that will protect their scientific inventions and innovations from copycats and infringers. They work with patent attorneys and business teams to evaluate the patentability of design and provide guidance to busy inventors.
Companies need the help of smart, passionate IP professionals to help them pursue existing counterfeiters and prevent new ones from entering the marketplace.
"The Lawman" - patent prosecutor
Like patent engineers, patent prosecutors take the burden of the patent application process off of the inventor. Patent prosecutors develop patent prosecution strategies, manage administration actions and negotiate with the patent office. Meanwhile, the inventor remains free to work on other vital projects. In the United States, patent filing and prosecution can be done by patent attorneys or patent agents — the former has passed a state bar exam and, in addition to filing and prosecuting patents with the Patent and Trademark Office, can also represent their clients in court. Patent prosecutors may handle additional tasks like patent portfolio development, managing disputes, and creating a defensive strategy. Without the help of an IP professional, an invention might never make it through the patent process.
"Major Trail" - patent litigator
The legal system can be a scary place for someone who does not have the knowledge and background necessary to combat patent infringement. Patent litigators are their clients' heroes, making sure villains are brought to justice. These professionals often have a knack for technology, and many of them have training in areas like computer science and engineering. The role of a patent litigator is to defend an inventor's patent in court, which means they spend a lot of time researching prior technology and communicating with field experts. Their job is to protect more than just their clients, and they preserve economic growth and innovation.
"Captain Europe" - patent attorney
We live in a truly global marketplace, and it is usually not enough to file a patent in a single country. International patent law can be really challenging for business owners to navigate alone. They need the help of smart, savvy European patent attorneys to help them file European patent applications, which will protect their inventions and innovations in multiple nations.
European patent attorneys understand science and technology, and their education typically begins with a degree in science, mathematics, engineering or technology, followed by three years of professional experience working with European patents. These qualifications make European patent attorneys powerful allies for businesses operating in the global marketplace.
"The Sidekick" - IP paralegal
Even superheroes need assistance, like Robin used to help Batman. In the IP world, paralegals work under the guidance of licensed attorneys, assisting in the research and litigation of IP matters. Paralegals do not practice law, but they are instrumental in keeping the process moving. Legal assistants help prepare trademark, patent and copyright applications and they may work for law firms, corporations, government agencies or other institutions. IP paralegals are typically certified and have excellent communication and research skills and a solid understanding of legal software tools.
Although they do not practice law, IP paralegals work under the guidance of a licensed attorney and help prepare trademark, patent and copyright applications.
"The Wonder" - trademark attorney
Trademarks help businesses establish a brand reputation and communicate with their customers. A company's trademark is the face of its business, but many companies are not equipped to protect and enforce a mark on their own. Trademark attorneys are legal professionals who specialize in trademark rights. They help businesses register new trademarks and use and exploit existing trademarks. All companies rely on their reputation and the integrity of their brand so that a reasonable trademark attorney can be a real IP hero.
"The Alliance" - consultants and trainers
There are too many bad guys in the world for one IP professional to take on single-handedly. The world of IP also needs consultants who can help businesses understand IP law, so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves from counterfeiting, patent infringement and other threats to their IP.
You can be a superhero of IP
IP keeps the economy moving and is integral to industries like pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and computers. IP experts are in high demand. If you are an educated professional who is thinking about a career change, this is a growing industry with many fascinating branches and opportunities for growth and advancement.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.