Why did you choose a job in the IP sector?
Towards the end of my PhD, I was struggling to decide which career to pursue. I knew that I wanted to remain in science, but I didn’t want to continue with academic research, as the idea of focusing on a narrow area within my field did not appeal to me. I was first made aware of the patent profession by my supervisor, who suggested that it might be a good fit for me.
After researching the profession, I was immediately drawn in by the opportunity to be involved with both science and law. The profession promises variety, both in the daily activities and the technologies you handle.
I was particularly interested in developing my commercial knowledge of science and technology. Innovation is thriving worldwide; from the development of clean energy alternatives to even smarter smart phones. The patent profession continuously exposes you to cutting edge technology, and this was probably the major factor in my decision to pursue this career.
How did you get a job at Withers & Rogers?
I researched all firms with trainee positions in my field, and narrowed it down to those I believed would provide the best training and support to help me progress in this profession. I applied to the graduate positions for my chosen firms, including Withers & Rogers.
The first part of the application process was completion of a range of online psychometric tests. Upon passing this stage, I was invited to attend an assessment day with a selection of other candidates.
The assessment day was unlike any interview I had experienced before. The day involved written exercises, a face to face interview, a group exercise and a short presentation on a subject of my choice. At the start of the day I was a little nervous, but everyone at Withers & Rogers were incredibly welcoming and put me at ease instantly. I also had the opportunity to chat with current trainees, which was really insightful.
Overall, it was a highly rewarding and enjoyable experience and when I received the offer I accepted without hesitation.
What are your main duties/roles?
In general, the majority of my work is prosecution based. This covers a range of tasks, such as updating a client on any new developments with their application, getting to grips with a new invention, reviewing prior art that an Examiner has cited to try and identify any key differences that make the client’s invention patentable, or formulating arguments to overcome an Examiner’s objections. From a commercial standpoint, it is important for the client to try to gain as broad a scope of protection as possible during prosecution. Therefore, one of the main challenges is achieving the best protection possible whilst also ensuring that the Examiner’s objections are addressed. I find it particularly rewarding when one of my suggestions is commercially useful to the client.
In addition to prosecution, I have also assisted on an opposition case, provided strategic advice on infringement by a competitor, attended invention disclosure meetings with new clients and been involved in business development.
What skills are useful in this profession?
Good written and oral communication skills are crucial. Whether you are drafting a patent, discussing a new invention with a client or structuring coherent and clear-cut arguments during prosecution, having strong written and oral communication skills are paramount to the quality of work you produce.
Also, as a key aspect of the job is assessing whether inventions are both novel and inventive, it is important to have a good understanding of scientific principles and processes within your field of expertise.
The patent profession is heavily deadline driven, which means that it can be highly stressful at times. Therefore, it is important to manage both time and stress efficiently, and be able to prioritise well.
Finally, as a big part of the job involves defending and negotiating patent applications, it is important to show meticulous attention to detail and have the ability to think laterally.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Research the profession thoroughly to ensure it is the right move for you. IP Careers is a great resource to use, as it provides valuable information about the application process, interviews, training, and the career in general. Also, some firms offer open days. These are a great chance to gain insight into the day job and meet people in the profession, so I would recommend taking advantage of these opportunities where possible.
As I have mentioned earlier, good language skills and attention to detail are important skills for this profession. Therefore, take care when preparing applications and writing your CV to avoid typos and grammatical errors.
Finally, competition is fierce, but if it is what you want to do then definitely persevere! There are usually only a small number of trainee positions available. Therefore, I would advise applying to as many firms as possible to better your chances. However, bear in mind that selecting the right firm is crucial. Each firm has a different culture and personality, so make sure it is the right fit for you.
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