How to Become an Intellectual Property Manager


Although there are other paths to take, here is a brief overview of what it takes to become an Intellectual Property (IP) manager:


1. Make sure you have the right personal traits for this work

2. Get an undergraduate degree in Business, Science or Engineering (with coursework in IP)

3. Get relevant work experience as a student

4. Get a graduate degree or a law degree (with a focus in Patent Law, or Intellectual Property)

5. Get a job working in some capacity of Intellectual Property when you graduate 

6. Continuously learn about IP management, analysts and law in each job you take


Reading on below will give you a good idea of what you'll need to begin a career as an IP manager in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful information for this professional field, such as what you’ll be doing, what education and experience you’ll need, and actual job postings in your area!



What Education Will I Need?

There are no specific educational requirements for becoming an IP Manager; it all depends on the requirements set forth by the employer. Typically however, a degree in business, law, or a master’s or Ph.D. in a field of engineering or science that’s relevant to your employer’s field of operations are considered the most applicable.


Success Tip: Regardless of your academic background, pursuing courses in patent and trademark law can be very beneficial for work as an IP Manager!





What is an Intellectual Property Manager?

Intellectual property (IP) managers are professionals that possess a mix of business administration skills, strong knowledge of patent laws and trends and trademark laws or design, and/or skills and expertise in a technical or creative field. They use this expertise to create and administer an organization’s Intellectual Property strategies and operations. 


Although some IP managers have a law degree, they are not all necessarily IP lawyers or patent attorneys; they can come from a variety of technical, business, or creative backgrounds. 


For example, an IP manager may hold a degree in business with an advanced degree in intellectual property management, or they may have an advanced degree in a field related to their employer’s operations (such as engineering, chemistry, robotics, music recording, or creative writing, just as examples) combined with practical experience in filling and protecting patents, or dealing with intellectual property in some other administrative capacity.



What Do They Actually Do?

An intellectual property manager is responsible for creating an organization’s Intellectual Property (IP) strategies. Under the direction of an assigned administrator, they manage their employer’s intellectual property assets by providing professional support and analysis in the identification, patenting, licensing, marketing, protection and reporting of intellectual property.


They work within a multi-disciplinary team composed of colleagues from different departments, such as Legal, Partnerships, Engineering, Data Science, Sales, Product Management and other operational areas. They also work with outside counsel, such as patent attorneys. 


Their main responsibilities typically include identifying and evaluating new technologies with potential for licensing; evaluating market potential and valuation of technologies; managing patent prosecution; developing and implementing marketing plans; negotiating and drafting legal documents; and managing active licenses.



What are the Duties of an IP Manager?

Although their duties can vary, intellectual property managers are generally responsible for the following:


• Identifying patentable inventions and creative works

• Providing intellectual property policies and procedures training

• Building internal intellectual property expertise in order to reduce dependency on external patent agents

• Preparing plans for the defence of potential intellectual property challenges

• Making recommendations on and implementing prosecution strategies and tactics

• Representing  the client/their employer at patent hearings and during negotiations

• Working with project teams at brainstorming, design inception and major design reviews in order to spot potential for intellectual property conflicts and opportunities

• Supporting business planning and acquisition initiatives

• Liaising with product marketing and various external agencies in order to form appropriate Intellectual Property (IP) strategies

• Preparing and administering the annual intellectual property budget

• Auditing work product and invoices from patent law service vendors, when applicable

• Maintaining relevant industry knowledge and expertise



What Experience Will I Need?

Intellectual property management is not generally considered an entry-level profession; it requires a cross-section of skills that are acquired through years of education and work experience. Typically, any type work experience that deals with intellectual property management, analysis and laws, or in the industry in which your employer is engaged, will help you develop the necessary skills.


Specifically, relevant fields of employment for gaining this experience may include:


• Tech transfer management

• Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) 

• Marketing management

• Licensing management

• Insurance management

• Media and entertainment management

• Patent agency

• IP and general law

• Inventing

• Product development (including development and design engineering)

• Legal analysis and assisting

• R & D management

• IP contract management

• Financial and accounting management

• Investment banking

• Venture capital analysis


Success Tip: Try to get as much experience and exposure in one of these areas (whichever your preferred and chosen area is) while you're a student. This will help you refine your career goals, and help you hit the ground running on your career in IP when you graduate!





Should I Become an IP Manager?

If you have the following personal traits you’ll be well-suited for a career as an intellectual property manager:


• You have a keen interest in Intellectual Property issues

• You enjoy networking with IP professionals

• You have superb attention to detail and exceptional research abilities 

• You’re willing to earn the necessary education and develop the skills needed for work in this field

• You’re a team player that exhibits independent initiative and judgment

• You’re a positive, outgoing individual who can work successfully with various project stakeholders

• You have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, with a talent for negotiation

• You’re able to interact with a wide range of people including faculty, students, industrial managers, lawyers and venture capitalists.

• You can bridge the gaps between business, IP law, and technology/creative works

• You have business acumen and decorum



Who Employs Intellectual Property Managers?

Companies that commonly produce original scientific, technological, creative products or artistic works may employ an intellectual property management specialist on a full time or contract basis. They are also employed by firms that contract out their IP consulting services; and law firms, including those that specialize in IP.


Intellectual property manager jobs can be found in almost all industries, including with individual artists, recording studios, the health industry, technology research and development firms, engineering firms, and many types of organizations.


Please Note: In industry, Intellectual property management is usually done from a company’s main office even in large companies so if you do not live in an urban area you may have to consider relocating.



Intellectual Property (IP) Manager Jobs

Although job opportunities in this field are rarely posted online, from time to time they will be. Have a look below to see if there’s anything listed in your area:




Similar Professions

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “intellectual property manager”:


• Consumer Advocate

• Design Engineer

• Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator 

• Lawyer

• Lobbyist

• Management Consultant

• Patent Agent



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring IP Managers? 

Scholarships in our system are organized by field of study. The fields that are relevant to this profession are listed below on our "Relevant Areas of Study" section below. Any scholarships found within those fields will be suitable, all of which can be found on our Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become an intellectual property manager:


• Academics & Skills Training: “Master of IP Management & Markets.” (n.d.) Chicago-Kent College of Law. Retrieved March 4, 2017.

• Intellectual Property Career Features: “Intellectual Property Manager Jobs - What Do They Do?.” (n.d.) Intellectual Property Crossing. Retrieved March 4, 2017.


Please Note: Some information for this career guide was sourced from actual IP Manager job postings, which due to their brief online nature, are not listed here as sources.



Relevant Areas of Study

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant for this profession. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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