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Intellectual property is an intangible property right in “products of the mind.” Depending on the type of intellectual property, it may be categorized as patent, trademark, or copyright. The laws and economics concerning such rights can be complex, so it is often necessary that a business owner seek out intellectual property consulting to protect his or her interests. Intellectual property consulting could concern evaluation of the need to register certain intellectual property with the appropriate agency or the risk of infringement in the existing property of a business. Additionally, a particular entity’s intellectual property may be appraised through intellectual property consulting prior to selling such assets.
The type of intellectual property consulting that one must seek out depends heavily on the type of intellectual property that is being evaluated. Patent refers to the proprietary right in certain processes or an invention. Copyright is a proprietary right in a creative work, such as a picture or writing. Trademark concerns the use of certain identifying marks in the marketing of a product or service.
One of the primary forms of intellectual property consulting is bringing in an expert to determine if one’s business is infringing upon the intellectual property of others. For example, a business owner may consult an attorney as to his or her Web site’s compliance with copyright law. The attorney would then peruse the Web site along with the source of all potentially copyrighted material as provided by the business owner and evaluate whether or not the business owner is at risk of infringing upon the copyright of another.
Another type of intellectual property consulting is to determine whether or not the business owner needs to register his or her intellectual property with the appropriate agency and the risks of not doing so. Generally, this is a job also suited to an attorney who understands intellectual property laws. For instance, a business owner may be concerned with the use of his or her business’s logo. He or she may hire an attorney who evaluates the risks and rewards of registering that logo with the appropriate trademark office and explains the process of doing so along with the accompanying costs.
Intellectual property consulting may also be conducted with the purpose of appraising the value of such property prior to sale. A common example of this is when a company who holds a catalog of patents is considering selling some — or all — of that catalog. Typically, the consulting requires an industry expert who specializes in such valuation to conduct the appraisal and give the company a point of reference for determining the appropriate price at which to sell its patents.