Trade marks and patent attorneys are intellectual property (IP) experts who can help protect your ideas and inventions. By engaging an attorney to help secure rights, you can get the most out of your IP and business opportunities.
What is a trade marks attorney?
Trade marks attorneys are experts in trade marks law and practice. They specialise in helping you to register and protect your trade marks, which allows you secure your brands and grow your business. They also understand other forms of rights that can protect your IP.
Trade marks attorneys are regulated professionals who complete ongoing education to keep their skills up to date. They follow strict standards of ethical, professional conduct.
What is a patent attorney?
As experts in patent law and practice, patent attorneys:
- Have an in-depth knowledge of one or more fields of science or technology, and use their understanding to help best protect your inventions
- Specialise in helping you obtain patents
- Can draft patent specifications.
They are also familiar with other forms of protecting your IP including trade marks, designs and trade secrets.
Patent attorneys are regulated professionals who complete ongoing education to keep their skills up to date. They follow strict standards of ethical, professional conduct.
What's the difference between an IP attorney and a lawyer?
Patent and trade marks attorneys are not the same as lawyers, although many are also qualified lawyers.
An IP attorney:
- Is an IP specialist who focuses on obtaining and maintaining registered IP rights
- Better understands the processes and procedures for protecting patents, trade marks and other IP rights than general lawyers
- Can draft patent specifications (patent attorneys only)
- Can't represent you in court
- Can only provide advice in their area of specialisation.
- Can do most of the work that patent and trade marks attorneys do
- Might specialise in IP, including patents and trade marks
- Can't draft patent specifications
- Can represent you in court or provide general legal advice.
If you need to be represented in court or need general legal advice, you may need to see a lawyer – or find a patent or trade marks attorney who is also a lawyer, to get the best of both worlds.
Deciding whether to go to an IP attorney or a lawyer depends on what you are trying to achieve. Either way, you should do your research and ensure they have experience relevant to your situation.
How can an IP attorney help me?
An IP attorney may be able to help you to:
- Register and protect your IP rights, including patents, trade marks and designs
- Determine the best strategy to protect your ideas or brand
- Ensure you don’t waste money on applications you don’t need
- Monitor your competitors’ activities and help you enforce your rights
- Help with licensing and transfer of technology
- Conduct IP audits and help you determine whether you have ideas that can be protected
- Advise on whether your ideas or brands might infringe the rights of others
- Help you commercialise your ideas and grow your business.
Do I need to use an IP attorney?
It is not mandatory to use an IP attorney to file patent, trade mark or designs applications in Australia or New Zealand.
However, IP law is complex. There are many pitfalls which might not be obvious if you aren't familiar with the system. Making a mistake in your IP rights application could mean your IP right can't be:
- Used effectively to enforce your rights, even if registered.
Undertaking patent work without a patent attorney can be risky:
- Preparing a valid patent application is difficult — if you don't get it right you risk revealing your invention without being able to protect it. A patent's validity relies on it not being previously disclosed; you may not have a second chance if you make a mistake with your application.
- Patent specifications (which explain the invention and identifies what you claim as exclusive rights) must be properly drafted to protect your patent. Drafting patent specifications is a highly specialised skill and can only be done for gain by patent attorneys.