Trademark attorneys provide expert legal advice on the usage, protection and enforcement of trademarks, i.e. the names, symbols, images, logos and special characters which are used to identify companies and their products and services.
Trademarks are categorised as a form of intellectual property (IP), which are distinct from copyrights and patents.
If you become a trademark attorney, you’ll be providing your clients with both legal and technical advice. You’ll be responsible for researching selected trademarks to check if they’re already in use across the globe, completing the prescribed procedures for the registration of new trademarks and enforcing trademark rights in the instance of infringements.
Your specialist expertise will also come in handy when you’re required to provide contextual advice and expert guidance in trademark litigation. Your responsibilities will extend to providing legal advice on the registration and protection of trademarks in multiple jurisdictions, and preparing documentation and renewal notices across all jurisdictions where the trademark is registered.
Finally, you may also be tasked with providing legal advice and expertise on licensing, brand identity and copyright issues.
Salary & benefits
As a trainee trademark attorney, your initial salary is likely to range between £21,000 and £26,000, increasing to between £40,000 and £45,000 when you have obtained relevant professional qualifications.
Attorneys with more than ten years of post-qualification experience can earn anything from £45,000 to £110,000 a year.
Trademark attorneys tend to work on a standard nine-to-five basis. The majority of salaried trademark attorneys are employed by firms specialising in intellectual property, mainly located in London and cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
Other hotspots are academic nerve-centres such as Cambridge and Oxford, where there are a large concentration of companies and businesses engaged in life sciences, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, cutting-edge engineering and research activities.
Travel to client offices located within and outside the UK is common, even for trainee attorneys assigned to work on ongoing cases under the supervision of experienced colleagues. You’ll also need to visit trademark registration authorities and courts across multiple jurisdictions.
The minimum requirement for a candidate looking to start a career as a trademark attorney is usually a degree in any discipline. At a practical level, though, your undergraduate degree would ideally be in a subject such as law, modern languages, English or engineering.
Although, in theory, you don’t necessarily need a degree to enter this profession, it’s highly advisable that you do, as the average annual intake of trademark law firms is relatively low, and the competition is intense.
Training & progression
Trainee trademark attorneys primarily tend to train ‘on-the-job’ for two years under the supervision of senior personnel. However, in order to become a registered professional, you are now also required to study part-time at Queen Mary, University of London, and undertake a practice course, which is run by Nottingham Law School.
Upon successful completion of the above requirements, you will be enrolled in the Register of Trade Mark Attorneys, which is maintained by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPREG).
Opportunities for career progression include: promotion to partnership in private practice, setting up your own trademark firm, and transitioning into a corporate role as an in-house trademark lawyer for commercial organisations which operate across a wide range of industry sectors.