As we’ve discussed before, the world of intellectual property is an increasingly volatile one, and it’s a potential minefield for any entrepreneur who doesn’t have all of their ducks in a row before moving forward with a new product or innovation.
We’ve talked about making sure you have a legal team in place before marketing, manufacturing and selling a new product, because it’s an important pre-product-launch step. It’s simply part of the business landscape now.
But how do you find that legal representation? How you know what to look for? We’ve listed some helpful tips below on how to search for the right attorneys for your IP needs.
Note: Just as a reminder, “intellectual property” is defined as “an invention or work which is the result of creativity, like a manuscript or design, which one has rights for and which one can apply for a copyright, patent or trademark for.”
Know the most common areas of intellectual property conflict
The most common disputes when it comes to intellectual propertyoccur in the areas of property infringement (unauthorized use, reproduction, or sale of materials that are registered for protection under intellectual property laws), copyright law (the right to prevent others from using your originally authored work), trademark infringement (the unauthorized reproduction or use of a trademark) and patent claims (statements that describe in detail exactly what your invention covers).
It’s important before you begin your search for the right legal representation that you know the kinds of claims most likely to be filed against you in intellectual property cases, and what kind of claim you’re most likely to be vulnerable to.
Experience pays dividends
This might be a good time to use the business relationships you have to make some inquiries. Who do you know that might already have representation? Who can you ask for references? Successful companies very often have great legal representation, so if you feel comfortable speaking with potential competition in your field, this would be a great reason to do so.
But asking fellow businesspeople about their legal representation is only part of the process. It’s up to you and your team to do as much research as possible once you’ve gotten some recommendations, or even – especially – if you haven’t.
As much as the rise of the Internet has made intellectual property claims easier to pursue, it’s also an invaluable educational tool when it comes to finding people to take care of your IP needs. What are the ratings and reviews of the attorneys you’re considering? What do you want to know about their areas of expertise?
Any experienced law firm will have had their services reviewed online, and it’s up to you to find those reviews so that you can make an informed decision.
The marketplace doesn’t stop at our borders, and neither should your search for good IP representation. If you’re planning on doing business overseas, does the law firm you’re researching have the credentials and experience to do the same?
Intellectual property laws are not set in stone from country to country, so it stands to reason that you might very well need a law firm that’s knowledgeable about the laws in every corner of the globe.
Introduce yourself – as thoroughly as possible
Once you’ve decided who to contact, it’s important to make sure you give them as complete a picture of your business as possible.
What products do you manufacture? What patents, trademarks or copyrights do you have? Where are you in the product development process? When do you plan to launch your product? Have you already sold your idea?
These are all things that your potential legal representation will need to know, so they can decide what your potential liabilities might be, or if it’s a good idea for them to represent you or refer you to someone that better fits your needs.
We may not be lawyers, but we do know a thing or two about product design, development, compliance and manufacturing. Click here for more info.