Chris Burnett


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“I found out about the patent profession by chance whilst at university. Whilst I enjoyed my Biochemistry course, I was inept at the practical side, and preferred the theoretical and problem solving aspects. I wanted a career where I could use my knowledge and scientific skills, but not work in a laboratory. A solicitor I knew put me in touch with a firm of patent attorneys, I did some work experience there, and the rest is history.

I originally worked in a small private practice firm of patent attorneys. There I did a lot of work with private inventors and smaller companies. On one occasion I had to advise a manufacturer of cardboard Wendy houses as to whether or not their new house infringed a patent. I had to spend the day making Wendy houses in the office out of paper to compare them. I am now at a larger firm dealing mainly in the pharmaceutical and oilfield sectors. I work mainly to ensure that our client’s inventions are protected by securing patents, and I sometimes get involved in contentious work. It is fascinating to be involved throughout the life of an invention. You are involved from an invention’s very inception, when you are trying to distil an idea for a product or process into an underlying concept, to try to cover all variations of the invention. You have to try to make the patent future-proof to protect against new technologies that have not yet been invented, which requires a certain amount of creativity. You must also work with the patent owner and/or inventors to help them navigate the patent system, often in many different countries. Finally, once a patent is granted and a product is launched, you are on hand to protect the invention and enforce it against infringers. No two days at work are ever the same. On one hand, the pressure of knowing that potentially millions of pounds could be riding on your advice (or on one single word in a patent) can be high, it comes with great rewards which include the fun of working with cutting-edge technology.”

Patent Attorney / A. A. Thornton & Co. / London

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