Monday 9 May 2011

INTA: are you going alone?

At MTB, after a couple of drinks everyone
starts to look like this :-)
If you're heading for this year's International Trademark Association in San Francisco and you don't have the security and comfort of the company of your colleagues since you're the sole representative of your firm or office, remember that you're always welcome at the annual Meet the Bloggers (MTB) informal get-together.

This year's MTB takes place on Tuesday 17 May from 8pm till whenever at Swig, 561 Geary Street, San Francisco.  It's free and it's a great place to do some top-class networking too. 

Friday 6 May 2011

CIPA and/or ITMA proffers a hand?

A piece in the latest CIPA Journal April 2011 caught my eye. It is headed Are you a sole practitioner?
I had been warned that such a piece would appear, but not what it would say. Apparently, the business practice committee were prompted to make the announcement by IPReg.
since I cannot link to the piece, I will reproduce it here so you have an opportunity to comment.
Sometimes it can be a lonely and scary business. How do you organise holiday or sickness cover? Who do you chat to about tricky or unusual cases? Do you struggle to find the information you need about IPReg, indemnity insurance, tax, employment law and other business practice issues? And-an unpleasant but important question-do you have a business continuity planning in case of sudden incapacity?
The Law Society operates a sole practitioners group, which provides representation and supports a solicitor who practice alone. We wondered whether CIPA and ITMA should run something similar. 
However, we recognise that a scheme like this is probably best initiated by sole practitioners themselves, if they perceive a need for it, rather than being imposed by the Institute head offices.
If you're a sole practitioner and you're interested in some form of support network, we like to hear your views. Both seek to end it now will be happy to help sole practitioners to establish their own professional group, and to support the group's activities in whatever ways were felt useful. The institute could for example:
  • Set up a directory sole practitioners, and an associated communication network
  • Distribute relevant information on request across the network
  • If appropriate, help organise mentoring or "buddy" schemes for new starters.
  • Help to establish regional networks to which 'on call' holiday or sickness cover could be arranged
  • Help to organise meetings at-whether it's cheaper or it might HQ at other venues around the country
  • Help administrative backup in preparing publications such as guidance notes are sole practitioners, or even a regular newsletter.
  • Assist in establishing resource pooling schemes, for instance the sharing CPD activities of the negotiating discounts from shared suppliers.
  • Channel the group's questions direct to the business practice committee and/or to IPReg where appropriate.
This list is almost certainly not exhaustive. The bottom line is, if there is sufficient enthusiasm amongst patent and trademark attorneys sole practitioners, we are keen to do whatever we can to support a special interest group. And some of these ideas might also be relevant, of course, to small practices of say 2 to 10 fee earners. 
If you like the idea of a support network, or have any thoughts about how it might operate, or-even better- you're willing to help set it up, please get in touch with us via your Institute Secretary either Mick Ralph or Keven Bader.
So there you have it. There might be a tiny flaw. As a sole practitioner, there is not a lot of time left over from running the business for running a professional body. This blog with the noble support of the chief @Ipkat is often as much as I can manage. We have negotiated a Westlaw rate that includes the CIPA Black book and the patent and trademark attorneys, for insurance all you need to know about is PAMIA.
Shall we have a meeting to discuss it?

Thursday 5 May 2011

"Patent Attorneys – Let’s save the nation!"

"Patent Attorneys – Let’s save the nation!" -- that's the rousing World IP Day call from Michael Bates (1 Place Patent Attorneys + Solicitors, North Sydney, Australia), who explains as follows:
"As a nation we have everything – we are technologically advanced and we publish peer reviewed papers well above our weight. Who are we? We could be talking about any of the top 15 patent filing nations ... but if we are talking about Australia, we have 
1. enjoyed a relative economic boom whilst most other nations have suffered from the Global Financial Crisis, and yet 
2. slipped most severely as a patent filer per head of population.
Why? We need policy implementation that 
1. address misconceptions about the perceived value of patents; and 
2. involves the patent profession. 
This results in the Australian business community placing relatively little commercial importance on patents. How can we change this? First, there needs to be better policy consideration to improving attitudes to patent protection. Secondly, this policy consideration should take into account the role of patent attorneys. Thirdly, patent attorneys participate in policy formation: have a voice!"
Michael's further thoughts on this theme can be accessed on his own blog, here.