I am honoured to have served as the President of CIPA in 2023. This year has been truly remarkable for our organisation.

One of the most significant highlights was the outcome of the UK government’s negotiations for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Notably, the successful negotiation of a derogation of the patent grace period provision removed uncertainties regarding the UK’s continued membership in the European Patent Office (‘EPO’).

This achievement is a result of the tremendous effort from our dedicated team, including Past-President Alicia Instone, trade lead Catriona Hammer, our award-winning CEO Lee Davies, and his deputy Neil Lampert, who worked tirelessly with the government and trade negotiation team over the past two years to make our position on the grace period clear. Congratulations and thanks to them for safeguarding the interests of our profession.

Additionally, the UK government’s commitment to promoting the harmonisation of grace periods on the international stage is a testament to our successful engagement with trade negotiation teams and the government. In light of these efforts, our involvement in Substantive Patent Law Harmonization has become even more critical. CIPA has actively participated in discussions on this matter, including submitting responses to two symposia hosted by the EPO and engaging in conversations with overseas sister organisations.

Of course, we cannot discuss our activities for this year without mentioning the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The UPC presents a promising horizon for our members, offering access to multiple litigation markets, including the EPO, the UPC, and the UK. In response to its emergence, CIPA has established a dedicated UPC Task Force, led by our incoming President, Matt Dixon, demonstrating our commitment to empowering our members to take a leading role in this new system.

International connections are vital for the work that we do, especially in a post-Brexit world. In my role as CIPA President, I have continued to work with the International Liaison Committee, engaging with international organisations on the critical issues mentioned earlier. Our presence at various global meetings, including those with the EPO, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Intellectual Property Owners Association, the Global Network Intellectual Property Association, the Korea Patent Attorney Association, and others, has not only raised CIPA’s profile but has also provided our members with opportunities to engage with key international stakeholders.

This year, CIPA held a strategic away-day where our Council Members and Chairs of various committees spent two incredibly productive days together to chart the course of our future. It was truly remarkable to see how our wonderfully diverse Council came together and shared their unique perspectives and experiences on how we can best support our members and the innovation economy.

CIPA is actively taking the lead through initiatives such as IP Inclusive and our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee to make the patent attorney profession more diverse, inclusive, and representative of the clients it serves. More recently, we have offered our support to the D&I Committee of the European Patent Institute in opposing a proposal to raise the bar for entry to the European Qualifying Examination.

It was also essential that we remained connected with our members throughout the UK. In particular, regional meetings held across the country have provided me with the opportunity to meet with members outside of London, listen to their concerns, and discover how we can better support them.

In a significant move, this year’s CIPA Congress took place outside of London for the first time, in Cambridge. This decision is part of our ongoing efforts to make CIPA more inclusive and less London-centric, reflecting the diverse talent and expertise from across the UK. Similarly, it was a great pleasure to attend the student conference earlier this year and meet with our younger members, who are the future of our profession. It provided an opportunity to understand how we can support them in qualifying to become world-class patent attorneys.

On the policy front, we have been actively involved in the UK IPO’s digital transformation consultations and have participated in numerous UK government roundtable events with our IP and AI Minister. Our commitment to staying at the forefront of discussions on IP in the UK, particularly on how we could support UK SMEs, remains important.

In conclusion, it has been a busy and rewarding year, and I am immensely grateful for the incredible support provided by the CIPA team and Council members. It has been a true honour to have served as CIPA President. I wish Matt Dixon, CIPA Vice-President in 2023 and the President for 2024, every success in his year in office, supported by Vice-President Bobby Mukherjee.

Daniel Chew

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