“I entered the profession after studying a law degree at university, where one of the modules was IP law. The Coursework of the module was to act as an attorney for two design students. This entailed holding meetings with them to talk about their design, conducting searches to see if there is any earlier publications that may prevent the designs being protected, and then compiling an advice letter detailing to them the best way to protect their invention. This really exposed me to all areas of intellectual property and gave me an insight into how you would represent a client.
I find the work of a patent secretary to be interesting. As a patent secretary you will be exposed to the entire life cycle of a patent, from filing to grant and beyond, so it really gives you a great overview this area of law. I have been exposed to parts of the patent process such as examination reports, search reports and patent specifications on a regular basis. This for me is an interesting part of the job as you are able to read the arguments being put forward by the examiner which are then countered by the attorney. You can follow the prosecution of one case throughout and see how it develops. Furthermore, the variety of work you can do is interesting. Patent applications can sometimes take over five years to grant and there are a lot of procedures you work on in between such as filing applications, reporting publications, amending the text of the patent application, and answering queries from the client. Further to this, each country will have different procedures, so working on a British application requires a different approach to working on a European or Malaysian application. There is such a variety of work to do it always keeps you on your toes.
I prefer working in a specialist IP firm rather than a general law firms as it creates a better working environment At a general firm you may be working in one section of a department, which in itself is just one department of many. This can create a “just a number” feel, whereas a specialist IP firm is equivalent to just one big department which can create a more “close knit” feel in the working environment. I feel valued in the work I do, and can seek support across all levels from junior secretary up to partner level. The partners and attorneys are all willing to give you their time to explain the work and areas of law to you because you work so closely with them and you are in contact with them every day.”
IP Legal Secretary (Patents) / A. A. Thornton & Co. / London