Tuesday 4 November 2014

The Professional Meeting

The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840 by Benjamin Robert Haydon
Tomorrow (Bonfire night) there will be an Ordinary General Meeting of the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents Attorneys. The agenda is essentially a vote to allow the entry of new members. The meeting is scheduled directly after the council meeting in the hope that the necessary 10 fellows can be persuaded to stay on and tick the boxes to elect the hopeful new members. I suggested to our esteemed secretary Chief Executive that this was rather a parody of the idea of an ordinary general meeting. That was on twitter here.

The purpose of this blog is to explain what ordinary general meetings were when I first became a member and before  CIPA became a CPD points machine. Members of the profession gathered together to discuss matters of interest to the profession. This would generally be by a chaired debate with some prepared paper followed by discussion from the floor. In this way members of Council were able to learn the views of the profession. Topics on which policy needed to be formed could be debated. A certain amount of learning would take place especially if the papers were well prepared. The papers were published.

It was also important that these meetings were open to everybody. They did not require additional fees. They did not come with free beer, but members might adjourn to a local public hostelry. However now that element is all that remains and without the initial food for thought, we are just left swigging gin and discussing Christmas plans.

When voting for council members, it was always important to see how many OGM they had attended. Were they in touch with the membership?

Now it came to pass that firms of patent attorneys were less keen on their staff departing from the office to attend such early evening meetings. Gradually only unmarried partners would attend and as attendances fell off and the programme planners failed to plan programmes we have what we have now, an OGM that is simply for admitting new members.

Mr Davies would like to rewrite the Charter and bylaws so that he can admit new members without an OGM abolish OGM. Unfortunately, I don't think he understands the principle behind the original plan but he is reading my blog so kudos to him.

If we are to believe the essential truth behind other parodies of council meetings, we must begin to wonder how CIPA is a representative body.

Fortunately, there are other intellectual property organisations such as AIPPI UK that do have meetings that discuss IP policy and developments and no doubt the membership will defect to those.

The default reasons for membership belong mainly to the young who are aspiring to qualify - hence the decision to bring the informals inside the dying shell. The patent examination board and IPReg will continue but one has to doubt the viability of the body that founded them if it doesn't meet. There can be no body without its members and if there is no membership, then the officers have no authority (and no funds).


  1. It has been pointed out that those of you in private practice may wish to consider FICPI which has similar objectives and a reduced rate for SOLO practitioners though its calender of meetings is a little light so one wonders how it "represents" perhaps someone who is a member can elucidate

  2. You raise very interesting points: in my view CIPA is for the whole UK profession and has an important role in advocating for the profession in various arenas. This advocacy and other activities should be reported continually to the membership in order to provide the necessary feedback, mandate and two-way communication. This is what people expect from a democratic profession and what has happened for well over a hundred years. Members have not as far as I know asked for it to be changed.

  3. Hi Barbara, I hope you do not mind me blogging by way of reply: http://www.disruptiveceo.com/disruptive-blog/those-newfangled-membership-notions

  4. We take our harps to ordinary general meetings,but nobody asks us to play. At regional meetings, for a decade or so, we have held OGMs after (generally well attended) seminars. Most dash off - few remain. It is a continuing problem to find out what CIPA members think about anything (one which the VP is trying to tackle by going out into the highways and byways....compelle entrare!)