In Suffolk Law’s IP concentration, you get hands-on, skill-focused learning that combines innovative practical clinics with traditional classroom lessons. Our concentration is one of the largest and most developed of its kind in the country with a wealth of courses to address the richness of this diverse field of practice.
IP law includes patent; copyright; trademarks; trade secrets; and right of publicity. All of these areas are related in that they deal with protecting products of the mind but in other ways they are very different. Patent law and trademark law tend to deal with technology and inventions.
Patent law involves obtaining a patent on an invention issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office—this is called patent prosecution and only registered patent attorneys can engage in prosecution. To be a registered patent attorney, you must have a science background in addition to a law degree. Another area of patent law is patent infringement litigation which can be engaged in by any attorney. This type of litigation is incredibly expensive – often costing millions of dollars in attorney and expert fees. Additionally, developing a strategic portfolio of patents is another important activity attorneys can do in conjunction with business people.
Trademark law involves prosecution of trademark applications in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, which can be done by any attorney. Trademark infringement litigation is a major area because companies with strong trademarks must be vigilant about protecting their trademarks to avoid losing them because they become generic words.
Both trademark and patent law involve primarily federal law. In contrast, trade secret law and right of publicity law are state law. And, the law varies a lot state to state making forum selection often a critical issue in this area of law.
The primary work in the copyright area today involves applying this body of law to electronic and digital media to control its duplication and distribution.