Last month, we held a launch event for Careers in Ideas, an initiative that was created for anyone considering – or who might consider – a career in the world of intellectual property, and for those who support them in their choices: careers advisers, teachers and parents. In today's blog post, Chris Burnett, patent attorney and associate at A. A. Thornton (one of our Charter signatories), reflects on the launch event, and the work ahead to raise awareness of the IP professions among young people.
We would also like to thank, once again, CIPA, CITMA, A. A. Thornton and our headline sponsor Dehns for helping and supporting us to launch Careers in Ideas. Dehns, who helped organise the event and arranged the all-important catering and drinks said: "Dehns is delighted to sponsor the official launch of the ‘Careers in Ideas’ initiative. Diversity in the IP professions is central to achieving a healthy future for all associated career paths in this area. It is clear that a great deal of hard work has gone into producing an engaging and practical online resource for those interested in IP as a career option. We are proud to be able to assist the promotion and future development of ‘Careers in Ideas’ through this event”
Chris writes: "On 10th April, a crowd of over 100 IP professionals, careers experts and students gathered at the Royal Society of Medicine for the launch of “Careers in Ideas”.
For those unfortunate not to be present, Careers in Ideas is a project set up in connection with IP Inclusive which seeks to increase awareness of the many IP-related careers available, to broaden and diversify the pool of potential entrants to the world of IP. Last year, Careers in Ideas-branded careers booklet, poster, PowerPoint presentation and website were created, free for all to use, to be taken into schools and universities to introduce students to IP-related careers. Crucially, a large range of possible careers in IP are covered by the materials, from records and secretary roles, to attorneys and judges!
Host and IP Inclusive leader Andrea Brewster introduced the event, and explained the need for diversity that underpins IP Inclusive, and how many potentially great people are lost to the world of IP, since they have no awareness of IP and the possible careers available.
On Thursday 26th April it's World IP Day. This year's theme is "Powering change: Women in innovation and creativity". At IP Inclusive, we want to celebrate women throughout the IP sector: the inventors and creators, the IP owners and users, and the many talented professionals who advise and support them, helping them to make the most of their IP rights on the wider stage.
Today's article is from the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, Lee Davies, who explores the increasingly important role that women play in the development of the patent profession.
Lee writes: "Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) has never been more prominent on CIPA’s radar. As a founder member of IP Inclusive, it is absolutely right that CIPA continues to fly the flag for EDI, not just in terms of the diversity of the patent attorney profession but right across the landscape of intellectual property. No single aspect of diversity takes prominence, but there are times when the attention falls on a particular group of people. For World IP Day 2018, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has alighted on the theme of ‘Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity’ and here, I reflect on the role and achievements of women in CIPA.
Set the task of identifying the first female Fellow of CIPA, we dived into the Institute’s archives and came across this entrance in the Transactions for 12 February, 1936.
The President said that the Institute that day was making history because, for the first time, its President had the pleasure of welcoming a lady Fellow, Mrs. Alderton, whose father, Mr. Andrews, was a well-known colleague. Medicine and law already had lady practitioners but, for some reason, the Institute had, until the present year, been entirely masculine. He had much pleasure in introducing Mrs. Alderton to the meeting. (Applause.)
This does not, of course, make Margaret Joyce Alderton the first female patent agent. Indeed, two women qualified as patent agents at around the same time, the other being Margaret Gulland Dixon, the daughter of George Ellis (Mewburn Ellis). On googling ‘first female patent agent UK’, it is Margaret Dixon whose name comes up, with the Mewburn Ellis website stating that she entered the profession in 1929 and qualified in 1936, making her ‘the first woman to take up patent agency as a full-time career’.
We do know that Margaret Alderton qualified in May 1935, making her the first qualified female patent agent in the UK, and that she became a Fellow of CIPA in February 1936. Margaret Dixon qualified in February 1936 and was admitted as a Fellow of CIPA in November of that year. I would rather not dwell on which of these two remarkable women was the first female patent agent in the UK. Together, the two Margarets took on the established all-male profession and carved their names in history.
The flood gates, however, did not open. It would be twenty years before the admission of another female Fellow, Mrs Nancy Rowena Margaret Russell, in 1959. Before a host of eagle-eyed patent attorneys observe that this is a gap of twenty-three years, there were no Fellows admitted in the mid-war years 1942 to 1944. From this point onwards, we find female Fellows being admitted to CIPA at the rate of one every two or three years, with thirty to forty male counterparts, through until the early seventies, when things start to pick up.
IP Inclusive, in association with CIPA, CITMA and our headline sponsor Dehns, invite you to the launch of Careers In Ideas on Tuesday 10th April 2018. The launch will be held at the home of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 0AE.
Careers in Ideas is an initiative that was created for anyone considering – or who might consider – a career in the world of intellectual property, and for those who support them in their choices: careers advisers, teachers and parents.
This launch event gives everyone the opportunity to see the Careers in Ideas resources and take part in a discussion regarding the next steps to disseminate this information and help to increase diversity in IP. Careers in Ideas aims to raise awareness of all types of jobs within the IP sector, from those suitable for school-leavers to those that require further education. Therefore, we welcome all IP professionals and their colleagues - including administrators, searchers, IP managers, licensing executives as well as those in HR or practice management roles - and also professionals from the education, careers and outreach sectors to the launch event. Therefore, please share details of this event with your own contacts within the education, careers and outreach sectors, to help us widen our network and raise awareness of the IP professions.
Doors open at 5.30 pm, with welcome drinks and networking. IP Inclusive leader, Andrea Brewster, will open the event at 6 pm. Guests will have the opportunity to hear about how Careers In Ideas came about, including a presentation showcasing the Careers In Ideas website and resources. This will be followed by a panel discussion with, we hope, lots of audience participation. With the formalities out of the way by about 7.15 pm, we will enjoy a launch party with drinks and nibbles.
To register your attendance, please visit registration page here.
Careers in Ideas is a powerful, profession-wide outreach initiative which can add strength and credibility to individual organisations' recruitment efforts. We hope, therefore, that this showcase event will be of interest and value to all IP professionals.
On 12th January, Darren Smyth from our IP Out Committee will be addressing an LGBTSTEMinar in York.
In a recent tweet, Darren reminded us that "When I was a chemistry student at Oxford University 1988-1996 in my entire time I was only aware of two other out LGBT chemists". He said he is "thrilled and delighted", not only to be attending #LGBTSTEMinar for the second time, but also to be presenting there on the pregabalin litigation.
For the last LGBTSTEMinar, Darren created and displayed a poster about the work of IP Out, and we're fantastically pleased that he'll be doing the same this time. Here's a sneak preview:
The LGBT STEMinar is a one-day research meeting for people who work or study in STEM subjects and identify as LGBT+. Straight allies are also welcome. The event is free and you can find out more here.
Good luck Darren - we'll be thinking of you!
IP Inclusive Leader
Today's blog article has been provided by three senior trainees at Wynne-Jones IP: Matthew Veale, Grace Mason-Jarrett, and Piotr Mach. Wynne-Jones are one of our Charter signatories.
Matthew, Grace and Piotr write: "There are many misconceptions that surround the intellectual property profession.
Needing a first in your degree, that you must have attended an elite university, such as Cambridge, or that it is simply a boring ‘desk job’, are just some of false beliefs many hold.
Here at Wynne-Jones IP we are challenging these common misconceptions and supporting greater diversity, equality, and inclusivity across our profession.
In this article, we reveal what we falsely believed before entering the profession and what IP inclusivity means to us.
What did you falsely believe before applying to a role within the IP profession?
Matthew: I believed that IP was not sustainably different around the world.
Piotr: I thought it was a boring job dealing with the papers/documents only.
Grace: I didn’t know a great deal about it so hadn’t formed any opinions.
Does the role provide you with more variety than you expected?
Matthew: Yes we cover anything and everything.
Grace: Absolutely, I think when (non-attorney) people think of patents they think of Big Pharma companies but in our practice that’s not the case at all.
Piotr: Yes, it means exposure to a variety of work across different technical fields- which is great!
What common misconceptions do people have with the IP profession?
Matthew: That you need a law degree, you cover all areas of commercial/cooperate law, and generally what IP is?
Grace: From careers fairs it seems a lot of people worry that they have no experience of the profession or understanding of the Law prior to starting, but that’s really not required.
Piotr: People think you need to attend a top university, get a first, and that Brexit will have a big impact on the profession.
Is there a lack of understanding about the IP profession at university/college/school?
Matthew: Yes, there should be a module at least related to IP law in every degree, there should be some exposure to IP in the school curriculum
Grace: I rarely (if ever?) discussed it at university/college/school. It wasn’t something I came across, I think there is a lack of understanding in that it’s not widely known about particularly outside of the engineering degrees. At Southampton University the electrical Engineers had a talk from an Attorney about becoming a patent attorney, but us physics students didn’t get that.
Piotr: Yes – “are we lawyers?” is a question I get asked quite a lot!
And finally, what does being IP inclusive mean to you?
Matthew: For me, it’s thinking independently together
Grace: To me being IP inclusive means listening to everyone‘s perspective in order to obtain the best solution (for the client or for the firm)
Piotr: It definitely means working towards a more accessible and supportive IP profession regardless of background. In particular, knowing that this initiative exists not only helps me to be myself and feel respected, but also raises my openness to others."
If you would like to write a blog article for IP Inclusive, on anything diversity related, please email Emily Teesdale of Abel & Imray. Guest bloggers are always very welcome.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Chris Burnett, an Associate Patent Attorney at A. A. Thornton and is about the talk he recently gave to sixth formers at the Hylands School in Chelmsford, Essex about the careers available in IP. Chris is on the IP Inclusive taskforce and is working on the project to raise awareness of the IP professions among schools, universities and careers advisors. A. A. Thornton are one of our Charter signatories.
Chris writes: "The last time I stepped into a secondary school was when I was a pupil nearly 20 years ago. I instantly stepped back in time walking through the main door, and familiar sights and sounds came flooding back. Some things had of course changed - people were now holding the door open for me and calling me “sir”, blackboards were now projector screens and the computers weren’t BBC Micros… but you get the general idea.
I have been involved with IP Inclusive for a while now, and I am part of the Careers In Ideas team, who are trying to increase diversity by spreading the word about IP-based careers to those who have never heard of them. Like many others in the various IP professions I only found out about my present job through a family member who happened to know one. Clearly, in terms of increasing diversity this is no way to continue. In one strand of my work for IP Inclusive we are encouraging people to visit schools, universities and careers fairs to talk about what they do. This was me practicing what I preached.
The Careers In Ideas initiative is about inspiring people to take up a career in IP, and since many of these careers require a STEM degree, what better place to start than sixth formers taking science A-levels who are looking to apply to university?
I was invited to talk at Hylands School by my next-door neighbour, who is a science teacher there. Hylands is a medium-sized secondary comprehensive academy in Chelmsford with just over 700 pupils and several farm animals. Many of the students I spoke to had already decided to go to university to study science degrees, so I merely had to inspire them with tales of my daily grind.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by IP Inclusive Charter signatory Beck Greener and is about their project to encourage young people to consider a career in the STEM sectors. Beck Greener have been shortlisted for an award for this project.
James Stones and Catherine Jewell of Beck Greener write: "Here at Beck Greener, we are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the Heart of the City Award in this year’s Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards, for our "STEM: Branching Out" project.
The aims of the project are very much in line with the good work that CIPA and IP Inclusive are doing to raise awareness of the profession among young people, and include inspiring and encouraging young people to consider a career in the STEM sectors, including the patent profession. We hope in particular to reach students from sections of the community that are currently under-represented in STEM careers generally, and the IP profession in particular, thereby improving diversity and social mobility in these sectors.
Organised by the City of London, the Lord Mayor's Dragon Awards recognise excellence in companies' Corporate Community Involvement that benefits Greater London. The Heart of the City Award in particular recognises businesses that have set up a strategic approach to community engagement for the first time in the last three years.
Launched in June last year, the Beck Greener "STEM: Branching Out" project is a new initiative within the Community aspect of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme. The project involves a variety of activities aimed at promoting careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and raising the profile of the IP profession, while also providing our staff with opportunities to develop their skills in areas such as communication, leadership, presentation, and project-management.
The IP Inclusive taskforce held its third annual round-table meeting on 7th February. Following updates from the four working groups on their 2016 achievements, we set our objectives for 2017.
Our key theme for this year will be the business case for diversity and inclusion. We will build this into our training events and outreach activities, so as to raise awareness, spark discussion and improve buy-in from decision makers in the IP professions. If you have any stories or thoughts to share on this, we’d love to hear from you: see for example our recent blog post on the topic.
During 2017 we hope to:
2016 has been an eventful year, and not always in a good way. But as it draws to a close, I find myself with only positive memories of what IP Inclusive has achieved. And it’s time to say my thank yous. Because whilst I may have been the one standing at the helm, it’s been the many other committed supporters who’ve driven the ship forward, who’ve kept a look-out for threats and opportunities, and who’ve provided the vision and the passion to keep projects on track.
And these are unpaid volunteers, note: busy professionals all. IP Inclusive is powered solely by donations – of time, expertise, hospitality and finance – from the generous individuals and organisations that support us.
So, I would like to say a massive pre-Christmas “thank you”:
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At last week's IP Inclusive party to mark a year of the Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, many of the participants and audience members noted that one way to improve diversity within the IP professions is by raising awareness of the professions among the public.
Under a separate banner, Careers in Ideas, we are creating resources to raise awareness of IP-related careers and encourage recruits from a greater range of backgrounds. The resources will be targeted at school, college and university students, as well as their teachers and careers advisers. The resources we've created so far include a poster and a booklet on IP-related careers, which you can download for free below. If you are attending a careers fair, or if you plan to do some outreach into schools, universities, clubs, etc. please print copies of our poster and booklet and take them with you to hand out.
We have also prepared a presentation for teachers to incorporate into their lessons in order to introduce their pupils to the careers in ideas. We are in the process of building a dedicated website through which potential recruits and their advisers can access information and support. For example, we plan on providing helpful tips on when and how to apply for jobs within IP, how to prepare for interviews, and how to write a good cover letter and CV. Through the new website, we may be able to connect potential applicants with people within the profession who can answer specific questions about careers, interviews, training, day-to-day work, the support networks within the professions, etc.
At the moment, we need your help to help us raise awareness of the IP professions by distributing our resources to the public (e.g. to schools, universities, libraries, careers services, etc.). If you are interested in helping us, please email Chris Burnett who is coordinating the distribution task and let him know:
We look forward to hearing from you!
If you have any questions about the resources themselves or the forthcoming website, please email Parminder Lally, who is leading the "raising awareness" group within IP Inclusive.