A trade mark attorney is a legal professional qualified to advise on matters of design and trade marks. Your main duties will be to provide clients with advice on how to protect their company and brand names and their logos. This will involve advising clients on how to choose and register their trade marks and what to do in the case of any disputes or trade mark infringements. A trade mark attorney’s duties might also involve other issues surrounding intellectual property, such as copyright and licensing.
To qualify and join the Register of Trade Mark Attorneys, you will need to pass several professional exams and complete some time as a trainee. The path for career progression usually culminates in becoming a partner or even the owner of a private firm.
If you have an interest in the legal matters surrounding branding and design, have good research skills and excellent attention to detail you might be suited to a career as a trade mark attorney.
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Day-to-day responsibilities might include:
- Researching existing trade marks so as to advise on availability.
- Advising on issues of intellectual property, such as design and copyright, as well as trade marks.
- Guiding clients through the legal aspects of introducing new products to the market.
- Drawing up contracts and overseeing the trade mark registration process.
- Managing and protecting intellectual property rights once trade marks and designs have been registered.
- Taking appropriate action if clients trade mark rights are broken. This could involve negotiation or providing support to solicitors if the case reaches court.
- Keeping up with trade mark renewals.
- Advising on the transfer of trade marks and designs.
- Advising clients on licensing outside of the UK.
You will usually need a degree to become a trade mark attorney. A degree in law may give you an advantage with some firms but it is not compulsory. The usual route is to find a position within an intellectual property department who will allow you to study whilst working.
You will complete a compulsory two years as a trainee under the supervision of a qualified registered trade mark attorney. During this time you will need to register with the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorney’s.
You will also need to pass several professional exams during this period. You can choose either the postgraduate certificate in Trade Mark Law and Practice or the postgraduate certificate in Intellectual Property. You will then need to pass the Professional Certificate in Trade Mark Practice.
Once you have completed this training period and passed the relevant exams, you will be eligible to join the Register of Trade Mark Attorneys.
Communication skills: You will need to be able to relay your advice to clients clearly. You may also need to work with solicitors or barristers where communication will be key.
Written communications skills: You will need a high level of written English for drawing up accurate contracts.
Attention to detail: This will be key in your research and will also ensure that the legal documents you produce are of a high quality.
Research skills: Essential for ensuring that proposed trade marks don’t infringe any existing licenses.
Negotiation skills: The ability to negotiate is crucial if any disputes over copy right infringements arise.
Teamwork: You will be working with a variety of people, from clients to barristers, so the ability to work as part of a team is essential.
Commercial awareness: This is important for lawyers practicing in any area, however, it is particularly important for trade mark attorneys to keep up with developments in new products and design.
Motivation and determination: As you will need to pass several exams while employed as a trainee, you will need a great deal of motivation and organisation to cope with the workload and manage your work-life balance.
Starting salary: £20,000 to £25,000 (as a trainee)
Junior: £40,000 to £60,000 (after qualification)
These figures are intended as a guide only. These will vary depending on the location of the firm and its size.
The goal of many trade mark attorneys is to become a partner in a private firm or a manager in corporate practice or industry.
To reach this level, you will have to demonstrate your commitment to your career and your expertise as a trade mark attorney. You will also have to have an interest in other aspects of running a business, such as managing people and finances.
Need more inspiration? Browse our trade mark attorney vacancies on Simply Law Jobs.