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Trade Mark Agent


Imagine a company that sells cheese always packaged in the shape of a cow, using a mould. This cow shape is unique to that company's product, and everyone can recognize it from commercials, print ads, and stores. In order to protect their cow-shaped cheese, the company needs to register the shape as its trademark. Representatives for the company need to approach a trademark agent, someone who has specialized in intellectual property law. This person will take their cow shape and turn it into a registered trademark, meaning that no one can copy it. A registered trademark is a proof of ownership.

A trademark agent is highly trained to lead people through the complicated process of registering their company's particular symbol. The agent performs a detailed, thorough background check, to make sure that there are no other products out there which have already registered the symbol. They will search trademark registries to ensure that it is truly unique. The agent will then compile the findings into a comprehensive report, and decide whether or not the company and its symbol have a chance to be registered. Completed applications are sent to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), where the application is reviewed, approved, and registered.
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  Interests and Skills  
Successful trademark agents are thorough, interested in details, and in researching complex and potentially dry information. They should be organized and be able to handle many clients' needs at once. They must be good communicators, and have excellent computer and typing skills. A good understanding of law, as well as a desire to obey it, are important qualities. Also useful are a professional attitude, and an ability to work well under deadlines and pressure.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Research client's proposed trademark, ensuring a similar application has not already been filed and approved
  • Offer opinion about likelihood of trademark acceptance
  • Prepare trademark application for client
  • File application with Trademark Office
  • Once the mark is approved, register the mark and client with the USPTO
  • Follow up on rejected trademark applications
  • Publish articles on trademark law
  • One of the most important aspects of a trademark agent's job is determining whether or not a trademark application will be accepted. This ability, developed over years of trademark experience, is one of the main reasons people hire trademark agents in the first place. A typical day for a trademark agent will be spent in consultation with clients, researching, and completing background checks on products and trademark history. A trademark agent must be sure about their opinion, as filing a useless application will waste time and money for both the agent and the client. Therefore, most agents and clients agree: there is no point in proceeding with a trademark application if there is little or no chance of success.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Trademark agents can be self-employed, working in their own offices as independent agents. However, many choose to join up with an established law firm, handling all the trademark cases that come the firm's way. A trademark agent will have an office, with regular hours. Unless an application is extremely pressing, weekend and late night work will be rare.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Work as a trademark agent is often a next step for lawyers, law students, and law clerks. However, it can also be a preliminary step for people interested in working in those fields. A trademark agent can work in a firm, alongside others in legal careers, or can move on to open a private agency, working alone or supervising a staff. A trademark agent can also move on to work at the USPTO as one of the people who gives final approval on applications. There are also teaching, writing, and publishing options for trademark agents.

  Educational Paths  
Anyone interested in a career as a trademark agent has a few options. It is possible to enter the field after completing a law degree, or after working as a paralegal or law clerk. Most people, however, get into this area of law after working for a time as a lawyer.

There are no required courses for a trademark agent candidate, but they must be certified to work as an agent in the US. It is suggested that those interested in becoming certified spend two years training under the supervision of a registered agent, to gain a thorough background.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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