Council and committees



Laws committees

Computer Technology Committee Chair: Simon Davies
Designs & Copyright Committee Chair: Alasdair Poore
Life Sciences Committee Chair: Simon Wright
Litigation Committee Chair: Matthew Critten
Patents Committee Chair: Tim Jackson
Trade Marks Committee Chair: Alasdair Poore

Internal committees

Congress Committee Chair: Julia Florence
Education Committee Chair: Vicki Salmon
Informals Committee Honorary Secretary:
Joel Briscoe (until October)
Lindsay Pike (from October)
Internal Governance Committee Chair: Catriona Hammer
Membership Committee Chair: John Brown
IP Paralegal Committee Chair: Julia Tribe
Patent Examination Board Chair: Damian Day (Lay Member)

Outside interest committees

IP Commercialisation Committee Chair: Catriona Hammer
International Liaison Committee Chair: Tony Rollins
IP Pro Bono Committee Chair: Stephen Jones
Media and Public Relations Committee Chair: Jerry Bridge-Butler
Regulatory Affairs Committee Chair: Chris Mercer

The 2021 Annual Report of Council

The 2021 membership year commenced with the installation of Alicia Instone as President, Alasdair Poore as Vice-President and Richard Mair as Immediate Past President. At that time, Council’s focus was on the impact of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union on the work of its members and the IP system more generally. Council was also aware of the impact of the Government’s trade negotiations on the UK IP system, in particular the intention to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

CIPA was well-placed to influence on behalf of its members and users of the IP system, with good relationships with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the Department for International Trade (DIT).

In establishing its priorities for the coming year, Council identified promoting the UK’s continuing membership of the European Patent Convention (EPC) and business as usual at the European Patent Office (EPO); the Government’s work on trade negotiations and potential accession to the CPTPP; and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and impact on the work of members as three important work streams.

To support this work, guided by its Laws Committees, the IP Commercialisation Committee, the International Liaison Committee and the Media & Public Relations Committee, Council approved a programme of events and activities to promote the UK profession at home and internationally. The IP Commercialisation Committee picked up the important responsibility of representing Council in discussions with the Government on trade agreements. Council appointed specialist public affairs consultants, Cicero, to advise on communication with the Government and other stakeholders on the potential accession to the CPTPP.

A small group including the President, Chair of the IP Commercialisation Committee, the Chief Executive, Lee Davies, and the Deputy Chief Executive, Neil Lampert, led a campaign to ensure that the Government understood the importance of the EPC for the UK’s economy and potential inconsistencies between the rules of the EPC and the requirements in the IP Chapter for joining the CPTPP. This work involved many meetings with parliamentarians, both MPs and peers, civil servants, IP representative bodies in CPTPP member countries and others in positions of influence.

The result of the campaign has been strong signals from the Government that it is aware of the importance of the UK’s membership of the EPC. Council has received written confirmation from Ministers that the Government understands that the EPC is of vital importance to UK businesses and the patent attorney profession, and an assurance that the Government is committed to remain in the EPC. ln CPTPP negotiations, the Government will adopt positions consistent with existing treaty obligations, including the EPC. The campaign has been successful, but Council is aware that much can happen around the negotiating table and will remain vigilant and ready to act should the need arise. Council thanks those who have taken leadership of this important issue for the UK patent attorney profession.

With the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) being published just before the New Year, there was little time to examine the impact on members. It became clear quite quickly that the business travel provisions of the TCA did little to protect the ability of patent attorneys to exercise their rights of representation at the EPO. Whilst hearings were taking place via videoconference, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there was a need to influence the Government to intercede with the authorities in Germany and the Netherlands.

CIPA’s Deputy Chief Executive, Neil Lampert, used his extensive network of contacts in the Department for International Trade (DIT), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to reach out to counterparts in Germany and the Netherlands. In the immediate post-Brexit environment, this was difficult and sensitive work and took some time to reach a conclusion.

The outcome, that UK patent attorneys who travel to the seats of the EPO in Germany and the Netherlands are exempt from the requirement of having a business visa, was a successful one for members. The authorities in Germany and the Netherlands accepted that representing clients at the EPO falls within the definition of a short-term business visit under the TCA. Council thanks Neil Lampert on behalf of members for his leadership on this issue.

It should be noted that the CPTPP work and the work on the ramifications of the TCA was conducted against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health restrictions put in place by the Government. CIPA staff, Council members and committee members have continued to work on behalf of members during this difficult time and the successes noted above, together with the achievements described in this report, underlines the resilience of CIPA and the excellent support it receives from staff and members.

Following on from the success of moving CIPA’s events and flagship conferences online, the Congress Committee and the IP Paralegal Committee once more delivered CIPA Congress and the IP Paralegal Conference using web and videoconferencing technologies. At the time of publication, the Life Sciences Committee is in the final stages of planning an in-person Life Sciences Conference, a return to physical events, which Council is sure will be successful.

As disruptive as COVID-19 has been, it has allowed CIPA to try new and different approaches to engaging with members. Council was delighted to see the new CIPA website launched, with refreshed branding and including interactive discussion boards for committees and member communities. Two IPs in a Pod, the podcast hosted by Honorary Secretary Gwilym Roberts and Lee Davies, continued to attract a varied and illustrious range of guests and Council and won the Memcom Podcast of the Year Award.

Memcom is the national network for membership and association professionals and its Membership Excellence Awards recognise those who are high achievers in the association sector. Council was delighted to learn that Frances Bleach, CIPA’s Membership Officer, was honoured with the Outstanding Achiever in a Membership Organisation award.

With CIPA as a founding member, Council has continued its support for IP Inclusive, including a commitment to contribute towards its operational costs. Council supported CIPA Past President Andrea Brewster, the Lead Executive Officer of IP Inclusive, as she made plans to move IP Inclusive to a sustainable future. Having been challenged by Andrea to set out what it can do to promote diversity and inclusion (D&I), Council was pleased to see the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee begin its work, under the leadership of Council member Greg Iceton.

Throughout the pandemic, all committees have continued their work to address matters of importance for CIPA’s members. Council apologises that it is not able to refer to all of the activities undertaken by committees on its behalf and wishes to record its gratitude to all members who give freely of their time and expertise. One of CIPA’s great strengths is the readiness of members to involve themselves in committees, working groups and other activities and the importance of this to the success of CIPA cannot be overstated.

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