• Role: Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: MChem Chemistry

Alex Lee

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I first came across a patent during my final year research project. Intrigued by this curious document, which appeared to define the essence of an invention in a single sentence, I conducted research into the patent profession to discover what it was all about. Initially, I turned to the IP Careers Guide, and encouraged by what I had read, attended an open day at a patent firm to learn more about the patent attorney profession. After deciding that a career in patents was for me, I applied to numerous firms by sending them my CV and a covering letter.

The application process at Hoffmann Eitle involved two interviews and a written test. The interviews were conducted in such a fashion that meant they were not only a chance for the firm to assess my suitability, but also a chance for me to assess the firm’s suitability. I was fortunate enough to be offered a job at Hoffmann Eitle, and have no regrets about accepting it!

From day one, I was involved in real cases, the technical subject-matter of which varied from batteries to pharmaceuticals. The work is challenging in a good way and there is always someone available to provide advice. My day-to-day work involves a wide variety of work including drafting and prosecuting patent applications, oppositions and appeals, and advising clients on matters of UK and European law. All trainee work is carried out independently but reviewed by a supervising partner or an experienced attorney, which provides invaluable training.

Shortly after joining, I was sponsored by the firm to study for the Certificate in Intellectual Property Law at Queen Mary University of London (which substitutes for the UK foundation exams set by CIPA, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys). This course provided an opportunity to study the legal principles underpinning my day-to-day work, and to meet trainees from other firms.

A major benefit of being a trainee at Hoffmann Eitle is the opportunity to spend six months working in our Munich office. This secondment allowed me to work with many partners and attorneys there and to work with different clients. As Munich is the centre of the European patent system, there is the opportunity to attend numerous oral proceedings at the European Patent Office. Attending these is invaluable, and I certainly benefited greatly from observing first-hand how experienced attorneys present their cases.

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