Trade Mark Attorney

I want to know

where they work

Show me ideas people in this role

What do they do?

Where do they work?

What do they earn?

How many are there?

What do I need to be one?

What’s the training?

Best bit:

Worst bits:

How do I apply?

What do they do?

If you own a brand, you want to ensure that no one can cash in on your success by copying the unique features that make it recognisable.

A trade mark attorney helps you do that by registering your trade mark, advising you on legal action to protect it, and, possibly, helping you face any challenges from other trade mark owners.

Trade mark attorneys also often get involved in other areas of intellectual property law such as registered and unregistered designs (the look of a product), copyright and unfair competition.

Where do they work?

A trade mark attorney usually works in a law firm seeing clients who might be the people or businesses that own brands or might be other lawyers acting on behalf of those brand-owners. Usually it’s a law firm that specialises in intellectual property (or a department that does) and there’ll be colleagues working on patents, for example.

Sometimes companies with many brands to protect (or a few big ones) will employ their own trade mark attorneys.

What do they earn?

A trainee may get a modest £18,000 to start with, but within a year, it’s more likely to be £28,000 as they start to gain qualifications. When they’re fully qualified, it’ll leap to around £39,000 and continue to rise to £59,000 within a couple of years. Once you become a partner, you can expect to be on at least £84,000.

How many are there?

Around 1,000 people are registered as trade mark attorneys in the UK.

What do I need to be one?

Trade mark attorneys must have an eye for detail and the ability to communicate clearly with their client. Clients might be major corporations or single individuals, so flexibility and tact are important.

Having an understanding of different businesses and even cultures is important, but this is something that grows with experience.

You need a degree, usually a good one (at least a 2:1). The subject isn’t critical, but law is a sensible choice. Modern languages or business studies can also be a route in, because they give you skills that you’ll find useful as an attorney.

Did you know?

The song ‘White Christmas’ was written by Irving Berlin in 1942. It is thought to be the world’s most valuable music copyright.

What’s the training?

Regardless of whether you join a law firm or the legal department of a company, you’ll need to sit a foundation course at either Queen Mary University of London or Bournemouth University, followed by a further course at Nottingham Trent University. These are part-time courses that you do while at work and your employer would pay for it while you work as a trainee trade mark attorney for at least 2 years.

Best bit:

Seeing a brand that you’ve helped create and protect out in the shops, advertised on TV or being used by your favourite sports team – and knowing you helped make that happen.

Worst bits:

Trade marks can be worth billions – think Coca-Cola® for example – and so the owners will go to great lengths to enforce and defend their rights. It can all get a bit stressful and there’s no room for mistakes – but, for many people, that’s all part of the excitement.

How do I apply?

You can just send in an enquiry at any time to a trade mark attorney firm, but some of the bigger ones have an annual recruitment cycle. It’s a competitive field, so you need to stand out: getting work experience in a law firm is a good start or some people start out as paralegals or trade mark administrators.

For more information, it’s worth looking at the professional membership organisation The Institute for Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA).