CIPA visit to UKIPO, 30 October 2015

On 30 October a group of CIPA members visited the UKIPO in Newport to meet examiners and other staff members, and to discuss areas in which the two organisations could work together to improve the IP industry in the UK.  Ben Charig and Harry Muttock went on behalf of the Informals committee.

The day was divided into sessions, including discussions entitled “What makes a good IPR granting system?”, “Outreach and education”, “Joint CIPA/IPO professional development”, and “Computer implemented inventions and business methods”.

Unsurprisingly, many answers were offered to the question of what makes a good IPR granting system.  Some people asserted that making sure applicants have access to high-quality advice and support (e.g. commercially-minded IP professionals!) was key.  Others spoke in favour of reforms to the existing UK patent system, such as increasing the cost of applying for a patent, or introducing different lengths of patent protection for inventions in different industries.  Somebody even mentioned utility models…

The “Outreach and education” discussion was lively and positive.  Both CIPA and the IPO are working hard to promote the IP professions among not only university students but also primary and secondary school pupils.  The IPO has even helped found Nancy and the Meerkats, a “soon-to-be world famous pop group”, to educate children about IP.

Following a conversation in the “Joint CIPA/IPO professional development” session, the Informals committee is in discussions with a senior examiner to try to organise a reciprocal version of the long-running Informals trips to the IPO.  The reciprocal version of the trips would allow trainee examiners to visit private practice firms and/or in-house departments, to learn from and connect with patent attorneys and applicants.  More information about this will, we hope, follow in due course.

At the “Computer implemented inventions and business methods” discussion, CIPA members asked examiners about the different approaches the UKIPO and the EPO take when examining applications in the field of computer-implemented inventions.  The CIPA members commented that the decision of whether to apply at the UKIPO or the EPO can be significantly influenced by the differences in the ways the offices handle such inventions.  This prompted a robust debate about the two offices’ approaches to examining computer-implemented inventions.  It was particularly interesting to learn that examiners from the UKIPO and the EPO had met to discuss the different approaches.

The visit ended with closing remarks from CIPA President Andrea Brewster and IPO Deputy Chief Executive Sean Dennehey, who thanked all the organisers and participants, and said that they intend to make the CIPA trip to the IPO an annual event.

We would like to thank CIPA and the IPO for inviting Informals committee members to take part in the visit.  We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the IPO, and in particular to improving learning opportunities for trainee patent attorneys and trainee examiners.


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