Saturday 7 June 2014

Dear President of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys

Andrea Brewster CIPA VP and Catriona Hammer, President
After the excitement of the CIPA elections, it is time to learn what we can expect of the new Presidency.

Our new President works full time for a large  corporate  GE Healthcare  so the three priorities she highlights in her address (printed in the CIPA Journal for May which may eventually appear online here but is briefly noted now on her CIPA  profile) are influenced by that personal agenda. They are:

  • Developing best practises in areas such as governance, compliance and diversity (the Duck says this is so not relevant to a Solo practitioner. I can't do diversity and I hardly need a policy to demonstrate that I don't take bribes. I do happily sign all the documents that say I won't buy coffee for anyone employed by a compliant client. These seem to be required by larger clients but I don't see that they do much for the profession.)
  • Policy contributions on the UPC and Rules of Procedure (the Duck comments that elsewhere in the Journal  the Chief Executive reports criticism by Mr Justice Birss of the profession's apathy and subdued response to the Rules. When the rules of representation were being discussed I was unable to influence CIPA to back my proposal as they prefer to aim for the hopeless case of having all CIPA Fellows grandfathered in, so frankly for most CIPA Fellows the UPC is remote and a threat rather than an opportunity and I need to remain a Solicitor to participate)
  • Education (the Duck says that would be good if it were focused on competence. I did ask my Institute to offer assistance in advocacy skills development but the proposal has been rejected in a silent way. CIPA have just announced a re-run course for September to encourage just 30 delegates to participate in a case study course at luxurious Missenden Abbey for over £1k: price to be announced on Monday. One thing that I learned on my Higher Rights course was that the case study is a tool and not the main focus. If you have a study that relates to your area of expertise, delegates retire to their comfort zone and spend time considering the specific facts of the study in the light of their expertise in the law of added subject matter or obviousness and fail to focus on the litigation skills. )
So what does the membership need from the Institute? Firstly it needs the Council to focus on representing rather than preaching. Ensuring competence is vital but so is ensuring that the Profession is delivering what the market needs. At the moment my perception is that the profession serves the needs of the large corporate fairly well (well that's the profitable bit) but we are leaving the access to IP awareness to the UK IPO - who are doing a sterling job.

To that end I would like to see tools developed to allow members to test their competence in core areas with a view to helping us work on competence. As a Solo practitioner it is difficult to know whether you are as up to speed on claim drafting or EPO rules of procedure, CPR as as you need to be. In my experience we all have to be very self-confident as our larger colleagues seeking work from our clients are all too willing to allege incompetence. Nevertheless keeping up to date with practice is vital. What we don't want is someone to tell us about individual cases. We can read. What we need is analysis and extraction of the relevant lessons that can be put into practice. If the Institute does Education well it would be worth it and the rest would follow. It should not be in third place.

Enough of my bitter wanderings. What do you want from your Institute.  Let them hear it, please

1 comment:

  1. Dear Barbara
    I have just taken up my new post as CIPA Policy Consultant and one of my obligations is to carry out thought leadership focused on the needs of the profession. Towards this objective I am going to collect evidence of the opinions of CIPA members and initially I will be considering how best to do this. In the meantime may I invite you and other Solo UK Patent Attorneys to make your views known to me.
    Many thanks
    Sue Pickin
    twitter @IPThinking