Friday 17 October 2014

S for Service

I am horrified to recall that it is now a whole fortnight since the famous Congress of the Chartered
Institute of Patent Attorneys broke up. The final event was a dazzling introduction of the CIPA Strategic Plan. As you can see from the picture this has caused the need for much study. The debate on the day was perhaps a little handicapped by the fact that those attending the webcast and others, like me, who had arrived just for the public part of the Congress and a piece of stolen cake, did not have access to this paper publication at the time. It is slightly soft and silky (but at least it doesn't have a lightbulb like the newsletter).

It was heartening to discover that the complacency of the Council  in assuming that members would simply stay on board forever, despite the fact that that membership is completely unnecessary to remain regulated patent agent, had been exposed by our new (ish) chief executive Lee Mark Davies. He gave a great presentation to keep the Friday afternoon pack awaketo explain what the ideas were and why we needed them. Maybe he is motivated by the desire to get an award himself from the Associations Network which provides a support body for people in his position. Interestingly though that is free to join because CEOs of associations are very good buyers, whereas patent agents aren't.

There's a lot of good stuff packed into this leaflet. Some of it may even be achievable. Some like agreeing and publishing internally a comprehensive policy playbook, clearly isn't. What that simply means is that the present Council will say what its personal opinion is. This year's Council opposes grace periods for example but there are an awful lot of members who support them and now CIPA have to justify why they are out of line with a lot of other interests such as the IP Federation and the University's representative body

The main purpose of this post is to highlight the fact that there is no S for service. It seems to me that the S for service is about CIPA being a hub which can direct people to its members, whether that's identifying a firm with with expertise in your technology  or someone who can help in a litigation emergency pro bono. Somehow IPReg as custodian of the register seems to have got that job and they are not well suited to doing it. They are well suited to allow punters to check whether a particular identified person is or is not registered or whether they have a disciplinary black mark over them, but not to help them find one in the first place. The UK IPO does an excellent job in all its literature of saying "go to CIPA or ITMA if you need a relevant professional". For example you find the page about patenting your invention on the UK IPO web site, you are taken straight to CIPA where you will find a hopeful little block that says find a patent attorney. This doesn't give you a lot of options apart from geographical area. It will also tell you that Filemot doesn't exist either but don't let that worry you, nobody would search for that.

Are we providing sufficient service to the community at large with this very basic tool. Obviously all firms do their own marketing but the public still feels reassured if they find a rated professional from a trusted source. At the moment, we are leaving them to Google. Does this give us much S for status?

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