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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Are you a Klingon or a Replicant? Do you work in IP? If so, read on

Klingons: acceptance within the IP
professions is a long and arduous Trek ...
"It takes all sorts to make a world" runs the proverb. Much the same can be said of the community of good souls who make up the community of intellectual property practitioners, owners and enthusiasts to which we all belong.  Once upon a time the IP professions were not merely dominated but almost exclusively comprised of "men in suits". Things have changed a good deal since then: a casual glance at any IP event will reveal that, in addition to men in suits, there are now men without suits, not to mention suits without men.  There is still some way to go, though: not just women and people from ethnic minorities but fictional felines, Klingons and Replicants are still struggling to break through, despite their respective good-humoured spontaneous genius, linguistic talents and superior skills. Naturally, they are accepted for what they are, but few Klingons would normally think about working for a firm of patent attorneys unless they knew other Klingons who were working happily in that milieu.

This is where the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) and Dr Parminder Lally (a Technical Assistant, Marks & Clerk LLP) come in.  As Parminder explains:
Entering a plea ...
“Readers may be aware that CIPA has assembled a taskforce which aims to improve diversity in, and access to, the IP profession (you can read about what the taskforce is doing here). My group in the taskforce seeks to raise awareness of the IP profession among children, parents, teachers, careers advisors and university students. One of my projects is to create a series of videos featuring IP professionals from a variety of backgrounds. We want to use the videos to show young people that there is already a diverse range of people working in IP.

Even now, few Replicants
can be found in leading
IP practices
I am keen to recruit volunteers who can encourage those from less well-represented groups (e.g. women, ethnic minorities and young people from deprived areas) to consider a career in IP. We need volunteers from different backgrounds for the videos. Anyone who is working in IP as a paralegal, legal secretary, patent searcher, IPO or EPO examiner, licensing executive, technical translator, technology transfer officer, formalities staff, patent attorney, trade mark attorney, barrister, solicitor -- or anything else [This Kat wonders what the "anything else" might be] -- is welcome .

You can find further information about the project by clicking here.  If you would like to volunteer, please get in touch with me: plally@marks-clerk.com”.
Go on, says this Kat -- if you belong to a minority, have a position in an IP environment and actually do something, please get in touch with Parminder. And both she and CIPA deserve a Katpat for their efforts.

Merpel wonders if there are similar initiatives in other jurisdictions. Can anyone tell her?

23 comments:

Meldrew said...

Plenty of us Neanderthals around.

Lili said...

In terms of anything else, there are also the economists and policy officers in charge of IP working in the government.

A Pure Neutral said...

Diversity - for the sake of diversity is just another ill-begotten spawn of political correctness, which is all about the political and nothing about the correct.

Encourage based on pertinent factors, and let's all aim to make ANY type of minority classification NOT pertinent, in theory AND in practice.

By the way, this not-so-politically-correct viewpoint is also known as being professional.

Merpel McKitten said...

Pure Neutral, no-one has said anything about diversity for the sake of diversity. Diversity should be a natural consequence of people of different backgrounds being able to obtain employment that reflects their skills, their aptitudes and their ambitions.

By the way, the selection of employees on the basis of their skills and their aptitudes is also known as being professional.

Anonymous said...

Pure neutral:
This seems more about putting people out there to show others with a similar background that they can do it. Let's face it, an office filled with privately educated Oxbridge graduates can be intimidating and off-putting to someone from a comprehensive. Similarly, an office filled with men can seem intimidating in some way to a woman.

If people like you don't seem to work somewhere, you start to wonder if there's a reason or a bias.

It's not just about making sure that the workplace is diverse by hiring a diverse range of people, it's making sure that a diverse range of people feel confident and able to put themselves forward for a given position in the first place. Political correctness has nothing to do with this.

Anonymous said...

A cynic said...

Not really sure how helpful this initiative is going to be (at least as far as patent attorneys are concerned) when there are plenty of people who will attest to the fact that if you're female, ethnic (worse still: with an ethnic name) and likely to be pregnant in the near future, then you have pretty much no hope of getting a training position. What's the point of encouraging people to enter this profession if they're not actually going to be able to pursue it? It would be kinder to dissuade students on the Queen Mary MSc from trying to be patent attorneys and steer them into alternative career pathways.

Anonymous said...

Cynic:
Glad I don't work where you do, and "you can't win, don't try" isn't exactly helpful or useful to anyone.

Do you not want things to change? Do you not think any people from different backgrounds have anything to bring to the profession?

Anonymous said...

A cynic said...

Anon @16.50 - do my comments make more sense if I change my nickname to "A sarcastic cynic"? And the last time I checked the definition of a cynic did not include "a person who does not want change" or, in this particular instance, "a person who thinks diversity has nothing to offer".

Meldrew said...

Cynic

".. there are plenty of people who will attest to the fact that if you're female, ethnic (worse still: with an ethnic name) and likely to be pregnant in the near future, then you have pretty much no hope of getting a training position"

There are also plenty of people who will attest to the "fact" that the Earth is flat and was created in six days.

Look around you.

Plenty of us Neanderthals around.

As for steering the female, ethnic, or likely to be pregnant away from patent agency and towards "alternative career pathways", what do you suggest - cleaning or cooking?

Anonymous said...

I am very pleased to see that the patent profession is no longer dominated by white males from wealthy backgrounds, educated at Oxford/Cambridge and mainly private schools. It is great news that there is now an almost equal number of white females from wealthy backgrounds, educated at Oxford/Cambridge and mainly private schools. Hopefully it will soon be 50/50 and then we can put all this diversity nonsense behind us and move on.

Anonymous said...

It is possible to be 'too diverse' according to my manager who says that is the reason I will never be promoted, apparently. I just don't 'fit in' with the other traditional middle class employees, it seems.

Astounded of London said...

I seem to have wandered into the comments section of a Daily Mail article. Some of the above attests to why a diversity initiative is so badly needed.

Really unbelievable. I am ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Astounded: Are you by any chance white, male and possibly an Oxbridge graduate? If yes then your astonishment is understandable. It's not a problem you're ever likely to face in this profession, at least in this country.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised there have been further comments since day one. CIPA et al harp on about diversity initiatives but these are the very people who only ever hire mirror images of themselves. Things will never change and the profession will remain dominated by white oxbridge folks.

This is all despite the simple fact that the skills need to be an exceptional patent attorney are not functionally linked to the class of individuals who dominate the profession. Might, however, explain the amount of garbage IP and advice in the UK market.

Anonymous said...

Certainly not necessarily the sharpest knives in the box.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-32276179

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 19:59 on Sunday:
Yes, because everyone knows that you are only allowed to watch the boat race if you are an actual Oxford or Cambridge graduate.

Anonymous said...

What a surprise. The idiots who got caught out by the tide weren't Oxbridge-related. Proves the point that only Oxbridge provides people with the right stuff for this profession.

Anonymous said...

I went to Cambridge and didn't watch the race. Apparently it was on a river in London instead! How's that work?

Anonymous said...

It has always been a mystery to me why the same two teams always make the final.

Anonymous said...

Because they're simply the best.
Better than all the rest.
Better than anyone.

They are quite good at rowing too.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that everyone is taking the original post with the seriousness it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Only 30% of patent attorneys in the pharmaceutical group at Kilburn and Strode are male. Does this mean women are more able than men? If the roles were reversed would it mean men are sexist?

This group/firm was taken at random and was the first group selected.

The figure at Strategem Patent & TM Agents is lower.

These are both large teams so the statistics are significant.

Anonymous said...

Potential clients are male dominated so it is good business development practice. Evens out eventually.

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