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  • Name: Gemma Sparrow
  • Job Title: Patent Assistant
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: Master of Physics & Philosophy

Like many who enter the profession, when I first encountered the role it was the technical variety and real world context that made it stand out for me. Bringing together a scientific background with a legal role directly relevant to business makes the patent profession quite unique. Since joining Keltie the role has really come alive, and I have seen why the patent profession is so important in supporting technology companies to protect their ideas, which are the foundation of their business.

Our daily activities of drafting patent applications and formulating and presenting arguments for patentability are our bread and butter. Understanding the relevant technology, what is ‘clever’ about it and why, and being able to express this using clear language (that will translate well!) is essential. In private practice, clear communication is also a major part of looking after your clients: jargon needs to be avoided and the complexities of the patent application process should be explained with care. Understanding your client’s specific needs and expectations is also key: more patent-savvy clients may already have a good understanding of the patent system and may instead be looking for specifically tailored, high level, strategic advice.

The remit of the job goes beyond filing and progressing patent applications, and includes a spectrum of issues relevant to our clients’ businesses. From proposing cost effective filing strategies to providing an opinion on infringement or attacking a third party’s patent, the goal is always to be down-to-earth and commercially relevant.

Keltie is a fundamentally down-to-earth firm. It is refreshing to be part of a flat, unstuffy structure and to work in an open plan office. It’s amazing the difference this makes: teamwork happens naturally and the day never goes by without some teasing and banter.

This is a youthful and energetic firm where new starters are given immediate client contact and a real variety of interesting work from the start. Training at Keltie is hands-on and we learn through the experience we gain. Each new starter typically works with two or three supervisors on different pieces of work, so you get a balanced view of how to approach the work and you can develop your own style. A typical workload for a trainee could include analysing and reporting examination reports, preparing monthly reports on a patent portfolio, attending client meetings or telecons and drafting a patent application from scratch.

We are encouraged to get stuck in to marketing, give opinions and suggestions for the firm and to enjoy the social side of working as a team. Everyone pulls their weight and is engaged with what they are doing. At Keltie new starters can feel a sense of ownership over their work because we are given responsibility and allowed to run with it.

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