IP Education Series #5 : Brunel Law School IP Pro Bono Service

This Kat is delighted to contribute to the IP Education Series (Previous posts: Intro#1, #2, #3 and #4)  organised by Tosshan Ramgolam.

Last year I launched the Brunel Law School’s IP Pro Bono Service. In this post, I will talk about the launch event, the pro bono service going forward, the student experience and impact of the project so far.

The launch Event and IP Pro Bono Service

The launch was hosted at Brunel Law School in February 2019, titled: Maximising Innovation with Intellectual Property. It was aimed at and attended by creators, entrepaneurs, early start-ups with a focus on IP education as a tool to utilise the value of innovation. Here is a summary video of the day!
A great turn out for the launch event!

The day was formed of two parts. The first part of the day consisted of talks. I introduced the different types of IP and how they are relevant to successful business. I highlighted the benefits of making informed decisions and mitigating risks but understanding IP, the need to conduct an IP Audit and develop a holistic IP Strategy. Here is a video of the talk.

Margaret Briffa, Leading Intellectual Property Lawyer at Briffa, discussed the infamous story of the Trunki case, and the lessons learnt such as the importance of early involvement of IP in the innovation process. Video here!

Nick Kounoupias, Chief Counsel Anti-Copying in Designs (ACID) talked about the impact of IP on the development of a product and the importance of having an IP strategy in place, particularly considering Design rights.

Mandy Haberman, Inventor and Entrepreneur best known for the ground-breaking Haberman Feeder and Anywayup® Cup, reflected on her experience of enforcing her intellectual property against a competitor giant who copied her invention, sharing valuable lessons. It’s a wonderful story, you can watch it here.

Lastly, Philip Naylor, Patent Attorney from Carpmaels & Ransford provided a more in depth understanding of patents and the patent application process. Video here.

In second part of the day my IP students took Pro Bono meetings with over 20 London based businesses, supervised by Brunel Law School’s Pro Bono Co-ordinator, Anjali Kemwal and myself.
Before the meetings students had conducted research for their assigned businesses and after the meeting students provided IP Audits and Letters of Advice for their client, assisting them with issues around trade mark, design, copyright, patents, trade secret and contract.

To prepare the students, I provided them with prompts for research, help with how to conduct a client interview, and of course several drafts of their letters of advice were needed (even with a template provided). One thing that worked well was that I created a Whatsapp group for the volunteering students, that was I only had to answer a question once! It also created a forum for them to help each other.

The IP Pro Bono Service going forward

Going forward we are continuing to offer IP Pro Bono in the form of IP Audits and IP Helpdesk in the second Semester for our Intellectual Property Law students (from Jan-June 2020). This will be more sustainable than coordinating all of the meetings on one day, particularly as we have already received growing interest from students and businesses.

[For anyone who would like to recive free IP advice, feel free to email or sign up directly through the IP Pro Bono service by emailing probono@brunel.ac.uk]

Feedback from Students

The feedback from students was heart-warming to say the least! I will paste a few examples here:

Happy Kat!
Image: Miss Nixie
“The structure of the entire day was set up to perfection. I always knew where to be and who was speaking. The plethora of speakers was to such a high standard and the topics spoken were both engaging and interesting. The Client meeting was a particular highlight for myself. Gaining that experience of communicating with a client and conversing with them, gave me a real insight into professionalism. I particularly enjoyed producing the letter and thank you for your dedication with helping me produce a high quality letter. Once again, it was such a great event and something I will never forget during my university experience. I cannot thank you enough for providing this opportunity.”

“Thank you for giving me this opportunity. It was a great event and I l, personally learned from it a lot and it gave a great insight to dealing with clients in practical life.”

“The IP pro bono was a really great experience. Problem questions allow law students to apply law to fictitious individuals, but the IP pro bono event allowed us to interact with real clients and give advice regarding their IP concerns. Clients may use this information going forward in their business and being able to contribute in some way is a satisfying feeling.”

Impact and reflections

Already the IP Pro Bono service has been recognised by Brunel University London in the form of a College Teaching Excellence Award in July 2019.

Essentially, the IP Pro Bono service offers a chance for Brunel Law Students to gain experience working with real clients, whilst providing valuable assistance to businesses on their intellectual property; a win-win! In particular, some of the businesses reported that the information from the students helped them to gain more from their business, and in other situations avoid infringement and improve branding. The service is also provided in house to Brunel students who are studying subjects such as design, engineering, music and film. 

Overall, I would say that honestly it was a lot of work co-ordinating the students and businesses, but it was extremely rewarding. The students really enjoyed the experience and have something to add to their portfolio. The positive impact that the students had on their client’s businesses gave the students a real sense of empowerment and achievement. Several of the students have gone on to study further with a few working towards becoming Trade Mark Attorneys.

IP Education Series #5 : Brunel Law School IP Pro Bono Service IP Education Series #5 : Brunel Law School IP Pro Bono Service Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Monday, February 03, 2020 Rating: 5

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