How to Become a Trademark Lawyer

Trademarks involve ownership interests in things such as slogans, symbols, logos and phrases that are used to identify particular services and goods. Trademark lawyers are also known as patent and trademark practitioners, trademark examining attorneys, trademark litigators, intellectual property litigation associates, or intellectual property lawyers. While any lawyer who is a member in good standing of the highest court of any state may represent clients before the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), attorneys who have specialized training and education in patents and trademarks are often the most successful within this field.

Intellectual property or trademark lawyers may work with inventors trying to obtain patents, or in areas like litigation, entertainment, sports, and trademark/copyright law. They commonly advocate for clients in court proceedings, as well as provide legal advice on using, protecting and enforcing trademarks. Much of their work is done behind the scenes, consisting of drafting documents, conducting interviews, and analyzing technical material.

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Most laws that trademark lawyers need to know inside and out are federal laws, like 37 C.F.R. Part 2- Rules of Practice in Trademark Cases: the Trademark Act of 1946.  A listing of proposed rules and recent final rules, as well as precedential refusals on basis of unlawful use can be found at the USPTO  website.

Education Required to Become a Trademark Lawyer

Trademark lawyers start their education with pre-law undergraduate education. If you intend to work as a trademark lawyer who secures patents for inventors, you should consider obtaining an undergraduate degree in a science or engineering area. If you plan to practice trademark law but not to secure patents for inventors, working, instead, in intellectual property areas like entertainment, litigation, sports, trademark or copyright law, you can pursue any undergraduate major with a nod to law, such as political science, history, business management and economics.

After completion of your undergraduate studies, you must apply to a law school (preferably one accredited by the American Bar Association) and pass the Law School Admission Test. You will earn your Juris Doctor degree while in law school, then must pass a bar examination for any state in which you plan to practice trademark law.

Specialization is not required for trademark lawyers, but law students who are interested in practicing trademark and patent law may want to consider it. The USPTO runs a Law School Clinic Certification Program. This program allows students who are enrolled in participating law school clinic programs to practice Intellectual Property Law before the USPTO, under the guidance of a Law School Faculty Clinic Supervisor. Students in these programs gain valuable experience in drafting and filing patent and trademark applications for actual clients of their law school’s clinic. They also glean knowledge about communicating with patent examiners and trademark examiners, as well as in answering Office Actions. A list of participating law schools in this program can be found here.
Select from among the links below, depending on your education level:

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Job Description & Skills Required for a Trademark Lawyer

Trademark attorneys may have different job duties, depending upon their particular area of concentration. Generally, however, trademark lawyers must:

  • Have a thorough understanding of copyright law
  • Have a thorough understanding of trademark law
  • Understand advertising, marketing and promotions
  • Have a thorough understanding of registration law
  • Understand domain name recovery
  • Understand domestic and international trademark clearance, prosecution and counseling
  • Understand trademark infringement and enforcement
  • Understand trademark licensing
  • Have strong research and analytical skills
  • Have excellent writing skills
  • Have excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Work well both individually and as part of a team

Trademark Lawyer Salary & Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual mean wage for attorneys of all types, as of May 2019, was $122,960. This is for all attorneys regardless of any specialization. Law Crossing quotes the average trademark attorney salary at $90,300 (2020 figures). Trademark lawyers working in the following cities earned higher salaries than the national average:

Los Angeles, CA:$128,500
New York, NY:$127,600
San Francisco, CA:$127,000
Washington, DC:$124,500
Boston, MA:$118,000
Seattle, WA:$95,500
Atlanta, GA:$94,700

The BLS also notes that the job outlook for lawyers of all types is average, with four percent growth projected from 2019 through 2029. Trademark law is always a popular topic within litigation, especially as more people, businesses and products try to make themselves stand out from the competition, so it is expected that there will remain a need for trademark lawyers for some time to come.

Also view Patent Lawyer career overview information.

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