The position of specialists intellectual property solicitors, barristers, patent attorneys and trade mark attorneys is fairly clear: they are qualified, they are regulated and they cannot quickly and easily increase their numbers. This has raised the suggestion that, since they are in relatively short and stable supply, the cost of engaging them is not very elastic.
It seems to me, however, that there has been a rapid growth in the unregulated sector. Among those wo are competing to supply services to the IP business community are the following (some people may fit within more than one category):
- former qualified practitioners who have retired or ceased to retain their practising certificates on being made redundant;
- people who for one reason or another have failed to pass their professional examinations but have studied for them;
- those who have worked in an intellectual property environment and have gained some practical experience;
- businessmen who have specialised in bringing innovations to market.
I'm fairly certain that there are quite a lot of people working as unregulated IP consultants since I regularly receive email or phone requests for advice with regard to gaining access to reported and unreported cases, updating on recent developments and recommendations of others whose skills complement their own. What I'd like to know is what impact these people have upon the IP environment, especially in so far as it affects micro-businesses and SMEs which perhaps unsurprisingly appear to make up the bulk of their clientele. I also know that some of these people would be only too happy to secure some form of regulation and recognition, while others see it as unnecessary or a threat to their activities.
Readers' thoughts on this topic are very much appreciated, not least because it might turn out to be an interesting and valuable subject for a serious research project in the future.