Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Caroline Day, Partner and Patent Attorney at Haseltine Lake LLP, which is one of our Charter signatories.
Caroline writes: "Folks, I wanted to pass on some good news, just in case you hadn’t heard: it’s officially OK use ‘they’ in the singular!
In other words, it is no longer grammatically necessary to pointlessly gender a subject of a contract clause or legal fiction, such as the skilled person or the moron in a hurry. And by ‘no longer necessary’, I should of course say ‘once more unnecessary’, because from the 14th to the late 19th century, nothing could have made more sense - I mean, why force a gender onto something when you had no actual knowledge?
Then in 1890 it was decided that “words importing the masculine gender shall be deemed and taken to include females” in Acts of Parliament, officially anointing the idea that ‘he’ worked fine as a generic. It doesn’t though. When someone says ‘he’, we imagine a man.
IP Inclusive has been around for nearly four years, but we know we haven't yet reached everyone we'd like to. So let's explode some of the myths surrounding what the initiative does and who it's for...
On 6 September 2018 it was announced that Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell would be donating £2.3m from a major science prize she was awarded to a fund to help women, under-represented ethnic minority and refugee students to become physics researchers. She said she wanted to use her prize money to counter the "unconscious bias" that she believes is still a barrier to entry in physics research jobs.
It was a timely announcement. On the same day IP Inclusive broadcast a lunch-time webinar on “Unconscious bias and the IP professional”.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).
We are no strangers to stress in the IP professions, and doubtless to the mental health problems it can fuel. Rarely talked about, inadequately supported, problems such as anxiety and depression can easily lead to tragedy.
Today, then, we call on IP Inclusive supporters to help improve mental well-being in the IP professions, and - in the words of the WSPD organisers - to take a minute to reach out to someone and change the course of another person’s life.
Please read our blog below about the mental health survey we conducted with CIPA this spring. Our report includes practical recommendations for improving mental health in the workplace - for employers and their staff, and indeed for everyone in the IP professions.
You can also download our toolkit for tackling mental health in the workplace, from our resources page, and use it to spark discussion and change in your own organisation. And if you need more information on "mental health first aid", a valuable way of raising awareness and understanding, MHFA England is a good place to start.
Please do something to make a difference.
Monday 10 September 2018 is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). It's a time for all of us to reflect on the devastating loneliness, fear and misery that can lead someone to take their own life, and what we can do to help prevent it.
A good time, therefore, for us to publish the results of our Mental Health Awareness Week survey of the patent profession.
We've already raised the £10,000 we needed to upgrade our website. Many, many thanks to the organisations who've agreed to help - the responses were overwhelmingly prompt and generous.
We'll be pressing ahead with the new site in September, so keep an eye on this blog for progress updates.
Once a year, IP Inclusive seeks funding for its key projects. The rest of the time, we're just happy to hear from anyone who can offer help, hospitality or anything else to keep the initiative thriving...
Our key project for 2018 is an upgrade of the IP Inclusive website. We want to build a new site with a more professional feel, a more navigable structure, improved functionality and easier editing. This will allow us to communicate more efficiently and effectively with both existing and potential stakeholders.
We're seeking offers of sponsorship to help us raise the £10,000 we need. We're looking for donations of between about £500 and £2,000. Unlike with our last major project, we now have our own bank account so can process donations ourselves.
Sponsors will of course be named on the new site, so this is a great PR opportunity. It's also a way of demonstrating your support for IP Inclusive and all the fabulous volunteers who help keep it going.
You can download the formal project proposal below. Let's make it happen! Please email me as soon as possible if you or your organisation can help.
Andrea Brewster OBE
IP Inclusive Leader
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Isobel Barry, Senior Associate at Carpmaels & Ransford, and is a report on the recent IP Out event. Carpmaels & Ransford is one of our Charter signatories.
Isobel writes: "In keeping with the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Week by not putting interested parties under pressure to attend multiple events in the same week, IP Out held its event about mental health about two months later at the end of July. It was titled In or Out: LGBT+ people and mental health.
Why hold a separate event addressing mental health issues for LGBT+ people? If you are thinking this, you are in company with about half of mental health workers, counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists, who say they do not consider sexual orientation to be relevant to one's health needs [Unhealthy Attitudes, Stonewall (2015)]. However, LGB people are more likely to experience poor mental health than the population in general, leading to problems such as attempted suicide, self-harm, anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorders [Inequality among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups in the UK: a review of evidence, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, July 2016]. One study found gay men to be three times more likely to suffer from a limiting mental health condition than heterosexual men, rising to nearly five times more likely for bisexual men2. Statistics for trans* people make grim reading: nearly half (48 per cent) of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide [The RaRE Research Report (2015)].
Less surprising is the evidence that discrimination in society is a major contributor to the higher incidence of mental health problems among LGB people. Even in the absence of any overt homophobia, not being open in the workplace about one’s life can have a detrimental effect on a wide range of factors including satisfaction in one’s achievements and feelings of job security.
IP Inclusive Management (IPIM) is the committee which oversees everything done under the IP Inclusive banner. The minutes of its latest meeting (July) can be downloaded below.
An additional strategy meeting was also held in July. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss where IP Inclusive should be heading and how we’re going to achieve that. With input from our founding organisations (CIPA, CITMA, FICPI-UK and IP Federation), from the IPO and from any of our supporters who want to contribute, we’ll now be drawing up a blueprint for the evolution of the initiative over the next two years. Our thanks to all five organisations for their continued commitment to the cause.
IP Inclusive Leader
Chair, IP Inclusive Management
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Caroline Day, Patent Attorney and Partner at Haseltine Lake LLP, and is on the topic of unconscious bias. Haseltine Lake is one of our Charter signatories.
Caroline writes: "Research tells us that bias can be reduced by contact: meeting people who confound your biases is a highly effective way to retrain your brain to think differently. But meeting people is hard. You have to identify who it is you want to meet in the first place, and get them to agree to meet you. You have to stop billing, leave the office whatever the weather turns out to be, and may well miss lunch.
There’s good news though. Simply visualising an experience can provide an emotional and motivation responses as strong as the real experience.
So I propose an experiment to challenge a common bias: that the person skilled in the art is male, and most likely white.
This is of course a hypothesis of mine, probably betraying my own bias, but surely reflecting the fact that every expert witness describing the experience of the skilled person I have ever met has been male and white, and that the skilled person may often be generically referred to as he, but only very exceptionally as she. Then we have the predominantly male and white annals of science: not the uninspired ‘skilled person’, but the innovators providing the teaching to be slavishly adhered to. If these chaps are overwhelmingly homogenous, then does this transfer a similar homogeneity on their imagined imitators? To the lazy human brain, I strongly suspect the answer is yes.