EIP is a dynamic, forward-thinking firm and one of the fastest growing IP practices in the UK; it has, most recently also opened an office in California, USA. It enjoys an excellent reputation for providing IP services primarily in niche specialisms and is trailblazing in the UK by incorporating patent attorneys and IP litigation solicitors in a combined partnership. EIP has a leading electronics and software practice and a significant presence in the life sciences, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and chemical sectors.
Find out more about opportunities at EIP.
What would a typical day working as an EIP trainee patent attorney involve?
The role of a trainee patent attorney can be broken down into three main areas: writing patent applications, prosecuting patent applications and admin. Writing a patent application firstly involves liaising with inventors to discuss their idea in detail to determine what the invention is and how it works. The next step involves describing the invention so that it can be easily understood, describing all of the features of the invention and claiming the invention to provide the best protection for the inventor. During this stage, you’ll get to learn about new technologies within your area of scientific expertise while enabling the inventor to obtain protection for their invention.
Once a patent has been filed, it is examined by the patent office. The next steps then involve prosecuting the patent. An examiner will search in patent databases to determine whether the invention is new or whether it may be deemed obvious from what has been done before. You will then argue that the invention is not known and is not obvious over the documents cited by the examiner. Sometimes the documents do appear to disclose what your patent application broadly claimed; therefore you may need to amend the application to differentiate over these documents. After several rounds of discussions with the examiners the patent may be granted.
The final part of the job involves discussing the patent procedure with clients, preparing invoices, organising my workload, preparing emails and forms and keeping up to date with patent law.
I have the option to do a post-doc after the completion of my PhD. Should I apply to become a patent attorney now or wait until I have completed my post-doc? How much do you value this experience?
We are keen to receive applications from candidates with postdoctoral experience, PhD’s, Masters or BSc degrees. Although it’s a highly respectable achievement, a post-doc does not increase the likelihood of a successful application with EIP. Therefore, we do not encourage candidates to invest in further research to boost their application to EIP.
It is important to remember that every firm will judge an applicant on criteria they feel are important to their business. In the case of EIP, we look for several factors when recruiting for a trainee patent attorney and whilst academia is highly important, it isn’t the only reason why we would choose to employ someone.
I am a second year student and have a year in industry as part of my course. Do you offer internships or industrial placements at EIP?
We would suggest the optimum time to conduct an internship is the summer after your penultimate year at university. Most firms start recruiting in the Autumn for the following year so a summer internship will give you a good understanding of the role before applications open.
At EIP we are currently developing a new internship programme for prospective trainee patent attorneys. If you are interested, please enquire via [email protected]. We may not be able to process an internship application immediately but we will have you on file when we launch the scheme.
What is career development like in the profession as a whole, and at EIP? How often at EIP do you see people move to management positions?
The advantage of the IP sector over, say, a career in academia is that you are entering a profession with a structured and well-trodden career path. Within the partnership environment, the typical path is Trainee à Associate à Senior Associate à Partner. In this model, Partners are the owner-managers of the firms.
EIP has a track record of promoting people through the ranks from trainee to partner. In fact, the first ever EIP trainee is now one of our partners.
What are your requirements at A-Level for non-UK EU students? Does this change if you have further education qualifications such as a PhD?
At EIP we typically scrutinise secondary as well as tertiary education in assessing candidates. For those who are from the EU, we would typically try and draw some sort of comparison. We don’t have any hard and fast requirements for secondary education but we look for high academic attainment throughout the CV and so we would view EU qualifications in this context.
What key skills do you look for in a candidate?
There are certain criteria which are pervasive across the IP sector. These include a high-achieving academic background in a relevant (or innovative) scientific sector combined with demonstrably excellent written and verbal communication skills.
At EIP, we look for certain other criteria. These may not be relevant for every firm but represent what we consider to be a strong skillset for trainee and future qualified attorneys at EIP. These include (but is not limited to): commercial awareness and a sound understanding of the IP sector; an ability to work autonomously and as part of a wider team; and a positive, hard-working and self-motivated attitude.
Do you need any prior knowledge of law before applying to become a patent attorney?
No, we do not require any additional qualifications or modules in law prior to your application. We are looking to recruit trainee patent attorneys with a background in science. EIP will support successful candidates through the examination process to become a fully qualified patent attorney.
Are there any opportunities to work in your Dusseldorf and USA offices?
Our US and Germany offices have become an integral part of EIP. There are jurisdictional restrictions on attorneys working consistently in an overseas office (i.e. you would need a US qualification to operate as a US attorney). That said, mid-to-senior level European attorneys can use our US office as a base for business trips to visit one of our many clients who are based in the US.
Our Germany office is currently part of our litigation and trademark offering and whilst we may develop a patent offering in the future it is unlikely (unless for similar reasons as above) that working from our Dusseldorf office is viable for a trainee patent attorney.
I have a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering, what role can I take in EIP?
With a Masters in Chemical Engineering you’d be most eligible to apply for a trainee patent attorney role within our Elements team.
The EIP Elements team deals with a wide range of chemical patents for a broad spectrum of UK and international clients. We advise on patents in the fields of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, polymers, food ingredients and process chemistry, and also work in a wide array of interdisciplinary technologies.
What do you look for in a candidate looking to train as a Trademark Attorney?
EIP looks for candidates that have graduated with a degree on or above a 2:1. A law degree can be advantageous, but it is not an essential requirement. Relevant work experience as a paralegal or a trademark assistant is also looked upon favourably.
How does working as a trademark attorney and working as a patent attorney at EIP differ? For example, is the support offered during training different? Are the two departments very separate or do they complement each other’s work?
Most IP firms have departments which cover the two main strands of the IP profession: Patents & Trademarks. EIP is no different in that respect. It is possible that a particular client may require both patent and trademark services from us. It is perhaps more usual to find that clients in the two departments are different, partly because they are at a different stage of their corporate history.
The work is different in these two departments, trademarks being less informed by science and driven by branding does not in itself require a scientific background unlike training to become a patent attorney.
What training and support do you offer to trainee patent attorneys at EIP?
Our trainee patent attorneys undertake a comprehensive training programme including in-house tuition and external education including the Post-Graduate Certificate in Intellectual Property Law and the CEIPI European Patent Attorney exam preparation course in Strasbourg. Our trainees at all levels are given all the supervision and support they need to perform and progress in their careers within EIP.
While education and exams form a key part of our training, EIP places great emphasis on the ability of our people to apply their legal training to providing clients with clear and commercially-focused advice. For this reason, our trainees are given exposure to direct clients very early on in their career, so that legal training is very much grounded in the context of commercial reality.
What is your recruitment process like?
We ask all prospective candidates to send their CV and covering letter to EIP’s recruitment team via [email protected]. All correspondence can be addressed to Chris Ball or Grace Baker who form the internal recruitment team at EIP. You can also apply to all of EIP’s current vacancies through IP Careers.
Successful applicants will be invited to a skype call with a member of the recruitment team.
1st and 2nd stage interviews are most commonly held at your preferred office location (London, Leeds, Cardiff or Bath). Both stages are headed by two EIP partners, specifically selected to ensure they share a similar academic background. To make a fuller assessment of your application, we will ask you to complete a couple of tests.