• Name: Helen Yard
  • Job Title: Patent Examiner
  • Location: Newport
  • University: Southampton
  • Degree: MChem Chemistry with Medicinal Sciences
  • Areas of Specialism: Chemistry

Upon joining the office in 2012 I was given a four-week intensive training course where I was taught the fundamental aspects of the job. This was done alongside the group of other recruits who started at the same time as me, which created a camaraderie and helped with settling into working life at the IPO.

After the course we were put in groups which specialise in specific aspects of technology and were allowed to work on live casework. All work produced is closely supervised during the first couple of years of the job by a revising officer, and I found that I was given a lot of guidance and support on all aspects of work during this time.

I now work more independently and my day to day work involves scrutinising both the technical and legal aspects of a patent application, comparing the new invention against those found in patent databases, considering the clarity of the application alongside any other legal issues, then considering whether or not to grant a patent.

I predominantly work in the chemistry heading which allows me to make use of the scientific knowledge obtained in my degree, and I really enjoy combining this with my newly acquired legal skills. It is also interesting to see the latest advances in technology and some of the more unusual inventions.

Continual development is encouraged in the office and seminars are routinely provided to keep me up to date in the areas of patent law and other aspects of the job. There are many opportunities to work in other areas in the office or get involved in projects. Currently I am involved in recruitment, meaning I get to attend careers fairs and visit universities.

The IPO offers a friendly and relaxed environment, making it enjoyable to work here. There is a flexible working scheme with no core hours which makes it easy to maintain a healthy work/life balance, as well as being a convenient way of working up more days off to add to the already generous annual leave allowance, handy for longer travelling holidays. The role is also flexible in that there is the opportunity for home working, which has been useful in allowing me to continue working when I broke my leg and was unable to drive into the office.

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