Trade mark attorney

A trade mark attorney is a person who is qualified to act in matters involved in trade mark law and practice and provide legal advice on trade mark and design matters. They help clients to register new trade marks and how best to protect those trade marks.

Work Activities

Trade mark attorneys provide expert legal advice on the usage, protection and enforcement of trade marks (the names, symbols and logos which are used to identify companies and their products and services).They are responsible for checking that a proposed trade mark is a new one and does not already exist.

Typical job responsibilities include:

  • Examine applications for new trade marks to ensure that they meet strict legal requirements
  • Filing and prosecuting applications to register new trade marks
  • Advising on the selection and availability of new trade marks
  • Discussing the use and protection of trade marks
  • Handling trade mark problems such as revocations
  • Advising clients on trade mark infringement matters

Trade mark attorneys are mainly office-based. They spend much of their time researching and writing reports on a computer. They may occasionally travel within the UK or abroad so a driving licence would be useful. Trade mark attorneys typically work a 37-hour week but may be required to work longer hours and weekends on occasions.

Entrants to this profession will usually join a firm of Trade mark attorneys or Patent Attorneys which has a specialist trade mark department. It is possible to progress to senior positions within a firm once you are fully qualified. Eventually you may be able to become a partner in the firm.

Approximately one in six trade mark attorneys are self-employed.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for trade mark attorneys

  • A full knowledge of trade mark law
  • Excellent communication skills
  • To be able to work in a team as well as on your own
  • Excellent organisational and decision making skills
  • IT skills
  • Strong research skills
  • Ability to multi-task

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of trade mark attorneys

The main employers of Trade Mark Attorneys are:

  • Large firms of trade mark attorneys
  • Patent Attorney Firms which have a trade mark department
  • Large firms with a strong trade mark interest who require an attorney
  • Some trade mark attorneys form their own firms in private practice


Qualifications and training required

The minimum qualifications required to train as a trade mark attorney are 5 GCSEs grades 9-4 (A*- C) and at least 2 A levels in subjects approved by the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA).

In reality, many entrants will have higher level qualifications such as degrees. Many applicants will have studied a Law degree but graduates from other disciplines are also accepted – dependent on the nature of the work conducted by the firm to which you apply. Having a Law degree may give you exemptions from some of the ITMA exams.

Once you have entered a firm you will begin to train as a trade mark attorneys through a work-based route. The training scheme will include independent study which will cover:

  • A part-time law course
  • A part-time practice course
  • Two years' work experience for which you will be required to keep a detailed record

Once you have passed the Foundation Level Examinations and gained 2 years' experience as a trade mark attorneys you will be eligible to apply to join the Register of trade mark attorneys which is essential if you wish to practice professionally.

In Scotland entry to a scientific or technical degree is likely to require 4 – 5 Highers at (A – C grade) to include 2 science/Maths subjects. Entry to a Law degree is likely to require 4 – 5 Highers (Grades A – B) to include Higher English and in addition National 5 Maths.

Postgraduate courses in Intellectual Property Law are currently offered by Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow universities.

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