Friday, 24 October 2014

Dealing with email tsunamis: any suggestions?

Don't dismiss this post as being entirely off-topic. It's about my perennial battle to cope with vast quantities of email that arrive every time I take a day off -- or even spend a few hours off-line when travelling by plane. I can easily receive over 200 emails a day and, in recent times, have frequently topped the 300 mark.

Intellectual property law is an area in which information-flooding is rife.  Apart from the fact that there are so many suppliers of information at local level -- publishers, conference and event managers, service suppliers, government departments and the like -- the global nature of IP protection and commercialisation means that we are always hearing from countries far afield, often countries with which our clients have little or no interest, whenever local law changes, offices close for public holidays, or recent commercial and litigious outcomes are reported. Then there are lists of fee-changes, both for office and private practice, solicitations, and lots more, The list is endless, or seems to be.

I'm sure that I'm not the only person in the world of IP who struggles to cope with incoming email and I was wondering whether readers of this blog -- most of whom probably don't have a secretary or assistant to screen their email before they get to it -- might have some useful algorithms, techniques or procedures for prioritising and processing larger quantities of incoming email than the eye can readily absorb and appreciate.  Suggestions, please!

Friday, 17 October 2014

S for Service

I am horrified to recall that it is now a whole fortnight since the famous Congress of the Chartered
Institute of Patent Attorneys broke up. The final event was a dazzling introduction of the CIPA Strategic Plan. As you can see from the picture this has caused the need for much study. The debate on the day was perhaps a little handicapped by the fact that those attending the webcast and others, like me, who had arrived just for the public part of the Congress and a piece of stolen cake, did not have access to this paper publication at the time. It is slightly soft and silky (but at least it doesn't have a lightbulb like the newsletter).

It was heartening to discover that the complacency of the Council  in assuming that members would simply stay on board forever, despite the fact that that membership is completely unnecessary to remain regulated patent agent, had been exposed by our new (ish) chief executive Lee Mark Davies. He gave a great presentation to keep the Friday afternoon pack awaketo explain what the ideas were and why we needed them. Maybe he is motivated by the desire to get an award himself from the Associations Network which provides a support body for people in his position. Interestingly though that is free to join because CEOs of associations are very good buyers, whereas patent agents aren't.

There's a lot of good stuff packed into this leaflet. Some of it may even be achievable. Some like agreeing and publishing internally a comprehensive policy playbook, clearly isn't. What that simply means is that the present Council will say what its personal opinion is. This year's Council opposes grace periods for example but there are an awful lot of members who support them and now CIPA have to justify why they are out of line with a lot of other interests such as the IP Federation and the University's representative body

The main purpose of this post is to highlight the fact that there is no S for service. It seems to me that the S for service is about CIPA being a hub which can direct people to its members, whether that's identifying a firm with with expertise in your technology  or someone who can help in a litigation emergency pro bono. Somehow IPReg as custodian of the register seems to have got that job and they are not well suited to doing it. They are well suited to allow punters to check whether a particular identified person is or is not registered or whether they have a disciplinary black mark over them, but not to help them find one in the first place. The UK IPO does an excellent job in all its literature of saying "go to CIPA or ITMA if you need a relevant professional". For example you find the page about patenting your invention on the UK IPO web site, you are taken straight to CIPA where you will find a hopeful little block that says find a patent attorney. This doesn't give you a lot of options apart from geographical area. It will also tell you that Filemot doesn't exist either but don't let that worry you, nobody would search for that.

Are we providing sufficient service to the community at large with this very basic tool. Obviously all firms do their own marketing but the public still feels reassured if they find a rated professional from a trusted source. At the moment, we are leaving them to Google. Does this give us much S for status?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

WIPO go to Manchester to visit Sally Cooper

My thanks to WIPO and the IPO for coming to Manchester. WIPO in the persons of Mr Yo Takagi, Mr Victor Vazquez, Mr Michael Richardson and Ms Asta Valdimarsdottir, and the IPO in the persons of Mr Tom Walden, Dr Hazel Craven, Mr Mike Foley and Mr Gareth Woodman.

Though the formal title for the Seminar was “WIPO Services and Initiatives” we all know the real title was “WIPO – What (More) Can It Do For You ?”.

One thing WIPO certainly provided is a memory stick with 6.54 GB of free space - along (of course) with the 168 slides used in the course of the Seminar and much information besides.

Not wishing to spoil things for those who will be meeting WIPO / IPO in Glasgow tomorrow (and those who may soon benefit from in house seminars following from the London Seminar), there follow nine slides which were of interest to the writer (with reasons) :

(1) WIPO - History : It’s always good to be reminded that everything began in Paris in 1883 : did I miss the party in 2013 (celebrating 130 years) ?

(2) WIPO - Present Times : It’s also good to be know that WIPO isn’t a static organisation but one that is embracing challenge
3) United Kingdom – good news : from 3rd in a global index in 2013 to 2nd in a global index in 2014 has to be GOOD NEWS !
4) Patents : if I were a Patent Attorney there might be more about patents – but it’s good news for WIPO that the PCT market share (top part) is increasing

(5) and (6) Designs : If I were regularly involved in Design Registration there might be more about designs. As it is – pending the UK government going forward with joining the Hague Convention – it’s the case that a “User” can apply directly to WIPO (per (5)) and, as the UK is a Member State of the EU (the Top Filer per (6)), it would appear that filing at WIPO under the Hague Convention is already an option ! (though you can't tick the UK box yet and those you can tick are not as exciting as they hopefully soon will be)

(7) WIPO – Resources : Probably the part of the Seminar that had the greatest impact on me was the reminder of the many research tools now available on the website at (Really Sally its the so much more snappy )

(8) WIPO – Resources – Trade Marks : As a Trade Mark Attorney, it was good to be reminded in particular of the “ image “ search tool that can be found on the Global Brand Database

(9) WIPO – Alternative Dispute Resolution : This is clearly an important part of WIPO’s work (even if some of us have, to date, only encountered services offered by WIPO in the context of disputes about Domain Names). It’s perhaps trivial to end with this slide suggesting “Model Clauses” but – in the alternative – maybe taking the pain out of drafting will result in more persons / firms / companies / other entities remembering what WIPO can offer should a dispute arise ?
 Poof says the Duck I am glad you didn't post all 168! but for those who couldn't make it there is always the 24hour WIPO website