Frequently Asked Questions About Intellectual Property

What does "IP" stand for?

This common term is short for intellectual property, which refers to property rights arising from works of the mind. Such works are not inherently tangible, like real estate and personal property like a watch or a car. They are fundamentally based on ideas, knowledge and ingenuity. IP may include:

  • Inventions and discoveries
  • Creative works like novels, sculptures, musical scores and architectural blueprints
  • Names and logos that distinguish products produced by one company from another.

Intellectual property falls primarily into three broad categories: patents, copyrights and trademarks. It also extends to related areas such as trade secrets and unfair competition.

Why should you talk to an IP lawyer?

For knowledge, experience and sound advice. With the technical issues, legal requirements and business issues that arise, patent matters are particularly difficult to navigate. While everyone likes a do-it-yourself (DIY) project from time to time, no one likes getting in over their head. Or worse, getting in over their head and not realizing it.

What benefits can you expect when you tap into the knowledge and experience of an IP attorney?

Consider this sampling of comments made by an IP lawyer at our firm to clients over several months. They had sought counsel on patents and received the following types of valuable advice:

Caution: "Let's not modify the product that way — it looks like it would put the company on the hook for patent infringement."

Timing: "They said they have a patent? Well, yes, they did. But did they tell you that it expired before you began selling your product?"

Marketability: "I could draft a patent application on your invention, but the patentability search results aren't very favorable on this design. Let's discuss the search results and perhaps improve the design to make it both patentable and more marketable."

Feasibility: "We don't need to abandon the application. You have fantastic experimental results that we can use to argue that your invention is patentable."

What is the potential value of the advice of a knowledgeable patent attorney?

The cost of not seeking advice may be much higher than you may realize. In the examples above (based on real cases), if the fees had been based on their value, the first two would have been charged at more than $2 million, while the third would have been about $15,000. These clients paid a fraction of those sums and were able to redirect their plans to their advantage. Not only did he help his clients protect their interests and avoid needless conflict, but also, the actual value of the advice far exceeded the lawyer's time on each matter.

What does an IP attorney do, and do you really need one?

We help businesses, inventors, authors, and others protect their inventions and discoveries, trade names and product designs, and creative works. We secure IP rights by obtaining patents, trademarks and copyrights. After obtaining IP rights, we help our clients license those rights, or if necessary, enforce them against potential infringers.

Do you need an IP attorney?

When someone is motivated to ask this question, the answer is usually yes. A trustworthy lawyer will say this not because of self-interest, but because of experience. Unknowns can get companies, individuals and new ventures into trouble. Every experienced IP attorney has seen many problematic cases come to his or her attention too late to avoid litigation. Sometimes a fix is possible, but nearly always at a higher price than preventive action upfront would have cost.

What is special about IP law?

IP is one of the most complicated areas of law and is muddled with deadlines that if missed can result in a loss of rights. There are few things worse to an inventor than seeing a competitor copy his invention and having no recourse because he did not secure IP rights. And for a new startup trying to attract capital, IP may be its only asset. Without IP, the startup may be unattractive to an investor and eventually lead to the venture's dissolution, leaving its founders empty handed.

Can you or the company afford not to consult an IP attorney?

One way to approach this question is by performing a simple cost-benefit analysis by asking whether the expense of working with an IP attorney is worth the benefit of protecting your or the company's oil and gas-related IP rights or protection in any field of expertise.

Discuss Your Own Intellectual Property FAQ With A Qualified Adviser

At Booth Albanesi Schroeder, PLLC, our attorneys have dual degrees: engineering or technology-related degrees and law degrees. Our years of experience and strong reputation are compelling reasons to give us a try. To schedule a consultation at our Dallas, Texas, law offices or by teleconference, call 214-220-0444 or send an email message.