A thorough grounding in UK and EU trade mark law and practice is essential and knowledge of overseas trade mark law and practice can be useful. Employers usually provide extensive training, so you may not need this knowledge as a prerequisite.
Entry into the profession is at degree level, often a 2:1 or higher is needed, unless the prospective trainee has a number of years’ work experience within the profession, for example as a paralegal.
A law degree can be advantageous but is not always essential. However an LLB can exempt candidates from a small number of the registered trade mark attorney qualification exams. Undergraduate degrees in modern languages, business or the arts are looked upon favourably by many firms.
Once you start as a trainee, you will learn on the job and also study for professional exams that will allow you to be entered on the register of trade mark attorneys.
To qualify as a trade mark attorney you need to complete a minimum of two years’ work, supervised by a qualified trade mark attorney or other suitably qualified person. There are also two courses you will need to complete, at Queen Mary University of London, Bournemouth University or Nottingham Law School, which are often done alongside the qualifying work.
Queen Mary University of London – a part-time post-graduate law course attended over one academic year. Classes are on Fridays and Saturdays every other week. Candidates work as normal on the other business days.
Bournemouth University’s Post Graduate Certificate in IP Law runs from January each year, and is a full-time option and has been developed in collaboration with the Joint Education Board of CIPA and CITMA.
Nottingham Law School - once candidates have passed the course at Queen Mary or Bournemouth, they take a part-time practice course in Nottingham over one academic year. Classes take place over a four-day period every 4-8 weeks and include basic advocacy and litigation training.
Several universities offer postgraduate certificate or LLM courses in intellectual property law, which provide candidates with part-exemptions from these courses. If you are a qualified solicitor or barrister you will be exempt from a number of the modules of the law and practice courses depending on the extent of experience in intellectual property matters.
To qualify as a trade mark attorney you will be required to complete a statutory declaration confirming you have the required experience, as set out in the patent and trade mark attorney qualification and registration regulations published by IPReg.
Once qualified you will then have the opportunity to become a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney by becoming an ordinary member of CITMA.