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Should the law department absorb in its budget patent and trademark expenses?

Yes, assuming the staff who handle the protection of patents and trademarks are part of the legal department, the costs of filing and renewing protection of those assets ought to be in the legal department’s budget (See my posts of Aug. 7, 2007: many international matters involve patents and trademark local counsel; April 10, 2006: total law firms retained ought to exclude local IP counsel; and Nov. 30, 2005: Computer Patent Annuities (CPA) and its services.).

Related expenditures, which are not as closely connected to originating and registering intellectual property assets, are investigation costs and “buys” to prove counterfeiting. Those costs are primarily business costs, with only occasional legal issues, so they should not be charged to the budget of the general counsel.