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The patent profession has changed drastically since its inception, and continues to evolve apace. This article discusses the ways in which IP legislation will shape commerce in the future, on both a domestic and a global scale.

There has never been a more exciting time to consider becoming a patent attorney. Innovation, invention and new technologies are at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery, and legislative changes at home and abroad are changing the face of intellectual property protection.

Like many of the long-established professional bodies in the UK, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) has seen the world in which it operates change significantly since it was founded in 1882. Entirely new areas of invention and creativity have opened up and the profession now operates on a global scale. Whilst the basic ingredients for those entering the profession remain the same – recruiting the very best scientists, engineers and technologists to train in this area of law – there are many new challenges and opportunities that will shape the profession in the future.

At home

brought a heightened sense of the importance of protecting the rights of inventors and the creative industries. CIPA played an important role in ensuring that the new Act was fit for purpose and that, through its implementation, the creativity and innovation needed by the business community in the UK could thrive. CIPA’s members, Chartered Patent Attorneys and those training towards the suite of patent attorney qualifications, are leading from the front by supporting IP rights holders in the UK. We are also helping the UK Intellectual Property Office to raise awareness of IP, and its commercial value, within the UK’s business community.

Further afield

nyone who uses any form of technology will know that the market in Asia is growing, with more and more technological innovation coming out of countries such as Japan, China, South Korea and India. The United States remains a leader in the creative industries and businesses from countries around the world are looking to assert their IP on a global scale.

Greater harmonisation of IP rights across the member states of the European Union is being sought through the creation of a patent system which will have unitary effect across Europe and the introduction of a Unified Patent Court (UPC). The Unitary Patent and UPC moved another step closer in March 2016 when Parliament approved the necessary legislation to enact EU UPC legislation in the UK. At the time of going to press, the future of the UPC and the UK’s place in it was unclear due to the result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

There is also a drive to simplify procedures for obtaining IP rights in Europe through initiatives being spearheaded by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the European Patent Office. The use of online central filing systems and data sharing by national IP offices is increasing, whilst search systems are becoming more refined. For businesses with an international footprint, IP is now at the forefront of their strategic thinking. For those with in-house teams this means that patent attorneys are at the heart of major business decisions. For private practice attorneys it means offering wider services to industry, including strategic business advice.

The future of the profession

IP is big business. IP is a global business. The future of the profession is very much linked to the development of IP legislation not only in the UK but, increasingly so, in Europe, the United States, Asia, South America, Australia and New Zealand. The world recognises the strength and status of the UK profession, with UK Chartered Patent Attorneys being held in the highest regard. On joining the patent attorney profession in the UK you are entering a global profession which is rightly proud of its heritage.

As the profession and the international IP landscape changes, CIPA changes with it. We will continue to provide effective domestic and international lobbying and new benefits and services to members to help them compete more effectively in the global marketplace. As a student you will receive advice and support throughout your training and will be part of a network of like-minded people working towards their professional qualifications. Once qualified, as a Fellow of CIPA you will benefit from continuing professional development as your career progresses, and a professional body which campaigns tirelessly on your behalf, to ensure that you are represented at the highest level and can influence policy-makers in governments in the UK and around the world.

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