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A trademark attorney is a lawyer who possesses specialized knowledge and skills about trademarks, which are protected words, symbols, or phrases adopted by an entity in order to distinguish its products from those of a competitor. While a trademark attorney can handle a variety of issues, one of his or her most common tasks involves filing a trademark application. In addition, he or she may handle litigation issues if trademark infringement or dilution occurs. On top of dealing with trademarks, an attorney may work on issues relating to service marks. A service mark is a designation used to identify a type of service, rather than a specific product.
A trademark attorney helps ensure that an application is properly registered with the applicable national or international trademark office. During this process, the attorney generally advises his or her client on the probability of the application becoming a registered trademark. Additionally, the attorney usually evaluates whether any risks are involved with adopting a certain slogan, word, or logo. The attorney can also help the client determine whether the potential mark may violate the rights of another person or entity. If the client decides to move forward with pursuing the mark, the attorney files the application and communicates with the trademark office as needed.
In many cases, a trademark attorney will choose to specialize in a particular industry. For example, an attorney may elect to focus on technology products and services. Having a niche practice area can allow the attorney to best present the product when the trademark application is filed.
In an infringement or dilution case, a trademark attorney can represent either a plaintiff or defendant. In this role, the attorney must evaluate evidence and develop a theory of his or her client’s case. Other responsibilities include preparing and filing any appropriate paperwork with the court, facilitating the discovery process, and interviewing or deposing witnesses. If the case goes to trial, the attorney represents his or her client in court. If the case is settled outside of court, the attorney usually spearheads negotiations for his or her client.
Trademark attorneys often have expertise in other areas of intellectual property law, such as copyrights and patents. With regard to copyright law, an attorney may help ensure that his or her client is given exclusive rights to a specific work, such as a book or song. An attorney working on a patent case generally assists his or her client in securing exclusive rights to an invention.
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