Sunday 25 September 2016

Why you should withdraw your European Patent Application

Patent applicants and their agents should very seriously consider their portfolios of pending European patent applications. Why?

  • You will get the whole of the examination fee back if examination has not started. This deal was improved on 1 July 2016 and is part of the EPO drive for greater efficiency as described here. This is set out in Art 11 of the Fees Rules if you don't believe me.
  •  You will get the whole search fee back if there is no supplementary search. Art 9 of the Fees Rules
  • The prospect of the Unitary Patent (UP) is fading after the #Brexit vote by the United Kingdom is receding fast. The continental Europeans would like the UK to ratify the Agreement fast so that it can become effective. However to do so before negotiations are complete would potentially put UK businesses who hold patents at a disadvantage when they were being enforced. Its possible that as part of the negotiations some new Treaty might be arranged that allowed the UK and possibly other significant non EU countries that are part of the EPO system to participate. Do read the opinion from Counsel which was sought by IP Federation, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Intellectual Property Lawyers Association rather than the spin that certain parties have put on it. Without the Unitary Patent the less rich patent holder tends to proceed on grant only with a few London Agreement territories. A rapidly granted UP held out tantalisingly the prospect of maintaining patent protection in 25 territories for a reasonable period until the renewal fees climb massively after year 10 to encourage lapse of any patents that are unexploited by that age. 
If you don't want to withdraw patent applications on which hefty renewal fees are being paid for nothing then you should consider making a PACE request when paying the next fee. You need the form 1005 and since I just spent an age looking for it, I have written this blog to hold the link to its location. I am sorry if they have since moved it.

Of course if you move the application along you will need to be able to respond to the examination report and pay the grant fees. It is worth giving applicants an idea of what that might cost having looked at the state of the claims in the application as it stands.

As  a further incentive to tactical withdrawal sometimes the EPO is going  to give you advance notice that the examination is about to start. A sensible move because it must frustrate examiners that cases are abandoned when they have done work, which could have been avoided.

Saturday 3 September 2016

Co-Working or the Rucksack Office

The Essentials of Office life
The image is of my Northern Powerhouse office. You will appreciate the choice of brand THE NORTH FACE to represent that my travelling office has gone North - mostly it only gets as far as York, which can be reached from my London office in 2 hours preferably by the very comfortable services of the Grand Central Railway

When starting as a solo most of us think about working from home. However there are other choices. You can choose a managed office that provides services. My London office is like that. The staff are brilliant. They are there to receive your clients and answer your calls. If you need a proper professional office then I heartily recommend LEO. (Please note that I am not being paid to advertise any of the businesses I mention here. )

The next alternative is a shared work space and these are now popping up all over - some private - some chains - some sponsored by other companies with a spot of space to spare. I attended a meeting in the WEWORK space in Moorgate recently. This is an American concept business and it rejoices in making a buzz. Noise seems to be positively encouraged. Some people may find this invigorating, but it makes discussions and presentations really hard even in an allegedly private space. Probably not for a lawyer intending to do real work, but maybe good for finding potential clients. Being American they are open about their pricing structures too, which is useful when budgeting your start up costs. This particular business has not penetrated beyond London yet.

For a lawyer to survive at a hot desk you are certainly going to need a pair of noise-cancelling head phones. Wireless ones would be best if you are liable to forget that you have them on when going for a coffee or a comfort break. If you want to look an Apple geek and on trend then I suppose it must be BEATS but that wouldn't really be my style.

Even if you work from home meeting facilities are something you may need. The office providers generally do meeting rooms for hire. The other possibility is your professional body. The IET has Savoy Place which couldn't be in a better location the right side of Waterloo Bridge and their meeting rooms are free to members - deal! The Law Society has a library but meeting rooms seem to have become a separate commercial operation. I remember once being interviewed there many years ago. It was not  a pleasant experience.

So what is the consensus for a successful solo live - the full managed office or working on your bed at home with a laptop ?