Are you ethical? Are you any good? Do you really want to know?

Do you provide services relating to IP rights? Do you -- or your clients -- ever wonder if you're any good? If so, read on. The British Standards Institute (BSI) has published on its website a request for comments relating to its draft specification for the provision of services relating to intellectual property rights. The draft standard, BS 8538, can be reviewed only if you register with the BSI here. Registration is a formality: Tufty has now registered on behalf of the IPKat Weblog, without apparent problems.

Following an introduction, an explanation of the scope of the proposed specification and a list of terms and definitions, the draft tackles a couple of important issues: (i) principles for ethical behaviour and (ii) process for service provision. A bibliography and annex relating to non-disclosure agreements bring up the rear.

The IPKat is not going to make any comments of his own till he has had a chance to read the spec in full, other than to welcome this initiative and to draw to the attention of IP service providers and their professional bodies the fact that the closing date for receipt of comments on the draft is 31 July 2010. Presumably the standard will be subject to constant pressure for fine-tuning and amendment in line with changes in law, practice and client expectations. Even so, the BSI's kitemark is a reassuring sign that someone, somewhere is doing something right. Merpel wonders, are there any court decisions that establish that compliance by a service provider with the terms of a current BSI standard is a defence to an action for professional negligence? It would be good to know.
Are you ethical? Are you any good? Do you really want to know? Are you ethical? Are you any good? Do you really want to know? Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. I find it depressing that anyone should see a need for such a document. maybe it's indicative of declining professional standards, and my own experience of letters to trade mark agents going unacknowledged even after reminders supports this - I hope the advent of IPReg will put a stop to that. A far, far better solution would be to restrict relevant work to properly qualified (and, these days, regulated) professionals.

  2. Unfortunately, there are some unethical firms out there with a propensity to bill for anything and everything and hope that the client will swallow it. It is a sad state of affairs but if it will improve standards and make such firms think about their ethics, it can only be a good thing.

  3. Re defence to professional negligence actions, the draft standard includes the following boilerplate: "Compliance with a British Standard cannot confer immunity from legal obligations."

  4. @Anomymous 11:35am. Surely the boilerplate ""Compliance with a British Standard cannot confer immunity from legal obligations" only serves to protect BSI from the risk that compliant parties, facing negligence actions, would seek to join them as parties or look to them for compensation. What I'd like, ideally, is a court ruling on whether a defendant can rely on nothing more than a BSI standard as evidence of having taken all reasonable steps to discharge a duty of care.

  5. tried to read the BS8538 and hate the fact I cannot just download a copy but then I suppose BSI are worried about their IP. My take is that they come to the party to offer credibility to Innovation Promotion Companies. Is Mr Baylis behind this? We are thinking of what happens when the patent profession dips out of regulation and becomes everythign but a patent agent


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