Intellectual property rights are legal rights related to intangible assets, such as copyrights, patents and trademarks. Analysis and resolution of the issues surrounding intellectual property disputes can be quite complex and require a significant amount of preparatory study, especially when involving parties based in different countries. An LLM in Intellectual Property provides the background necessary to enable an attorney to meet the demands of modern business clients and capitalize on the opportunities presented by these growing new legal practice areas.
The courses offered in LLM in Intellectual Property programs focus on a variety of topics relevant to the general landscape of intellectual property law. Among them you will find copyright law, which relates to the rights of creators of books, movies, music, graphics and even computer software, to name a few. An LLM in Intellectual Property will also cover patent and trade secret law, which pertains to inventions and the rights of commercial entities to protect their names and brands.
While these rights form the core of intellectual property law, their intersections with specific industries are specialties unto themselves. Entire courses can be devoted to the issues raised by the application of intellectual property rights to cyberspace, biotechnology, entertainment or international law. In addition, specific practical skills, such as high-technology license drafting, intellectual property litigation or patent prosecution, are all robust and practical subjects of study when pursuing an LLM in Intellectual Property.
International practitioners of intellectual property law are in particularly high demand as nations reach various harmonizing treaties and private entities attempt to adapt to the effects of globalization. These practitioners will have to grapple with the implications and applications of international agreements like the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (which has been signed by a majority of nations and is under the administration of the World Trade Organization) and more longstanding agreements, like the Universal Copyright Convention and the Berne Convention. Each of these international agreements seeks to smooth out the differences between local intellectual property laws in various nations in order to achieve consistency and reliability as globalization progresses.
With an LLM in Intellectual Property, an attorney will be well prepared to tackle these issues and advise clients as they attempt to safeguard their most complicated rights in an ever-advancing world market.
Intellectual Property Law Career Options
Intellectual property careers for attorneys are mainly found in private practice and cover a wide array of topics from scientific innovation to entertainment to marketing. Each of these topics corresponds to a particular division of the intellectual property field: patents, copyrights and trademarks, respectively. Each of these fields continues to develop, as new technology expands the scope of intellectual property rights and reshapes business practices.
The intellectual property field is particularly favorable for international practitioners, as cross-border disputes are quite common, and large multinational companies must remain vigilant, active and well advised from a legal perspective.
Here is a small sampling of job posts for those seeking intellectual property careers:
Trademark and Copyright Attorney
Estimated Salary: Not listed
At this in-house position with Apple, an attorney would be part of the team responsible for maintaining and protecting Apple’s trademarks and copyrights around the world. Extensive litigation and settlement negotiation tasks are required, as is contact with a diverse variety of parties and their attorneys located around the world.
Intellectual Property Attorney – Transactional
Estimated Salary: Not listed
In this law firm position, an associate would be expected to manage a variety of intellectual property transactions, negotiate with counterparties and draft the appropriate documents. Knowledge of licensing and issues surrounding Internet technology, particularly advertising, would be useful in this position.
Copyright Royalty Judge
Estimated Salary: $155,500 to $165,300
In this governmental position at the Library of Congress, an attorney would fulfill the role of judge, overseeing and adjudicating special administrative proceedings in which the rates and terms regarding distribution of copyright royalties are set. The United States Copyright Act provides for certain statutory and compulsory licenses, and this position requires a mixture of legal and economic expertise in order to determine what business terms would be appropriate to govern such licenses.