Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Risk assessment, Wess Curntry style

29 October 2014

Patent attorneys are traditionally risk-averse.  This is fair enough considering the costs you have to pay if you take an ill-judged IP risk and don’t get away with it.  So it is only proper that CIPA Council should take a cautious approach to anything that hasn’t been subjected to a comprehensive risk assessment.

But I would like to introduce you to risk assessment, Wess Curntry style.  Because, as I have discovered this half-term week, there is a whole new approach being trialled on the roads of North Somerset.  We will explore this using a few simple scenarios: try them for yourself, and see how you score on the Wess Curntry Risk-ometer.

  1. You are a bit unsteady on your pins.  Even with your zimmer frame.  You cover about three metres a minute, and that’s if you remember to look where you’re going.  You are standing at the side of a busy road.  There is no pedestrian crossing.  The traffic keeps coming.  What do you do?

Answer: following a thorough Wess Curntry risk assessment, you cross the road anyway.  Thus creating a de facto pedestrian crossing, a couple of dented bollards and a lot of upset motorists.

  1. You are driving a tractor.  The tractor is very slow.  It is also very big, approximately 1.4 times the width of the average Wess Curntry carriageway.  You are waiting to pull out of a concealed gateway.  You know that when you do, half a ton of manure will slop over the side of your trailer and across the path of anything within a seventy-foot radius.  Traffic is busy.  What do you do?

Answer: following a thorough Wess Curntry risk assessment, you wipe your nose on your sleeve and pull out anyway.  Thus creating a de facto farmyard where the road used to be.  And obliterating the guy with the zimmer frame.      

  1. You are in a largish hatchback.  It was built three years ago and serviced three months ago.  It has an engine.  It contains fuel.  There is absolutely nothing preventing it from going forward if you apply pressure to the accelerator pedal.  You are waiting to enter a roundabout.  It is quite busy.  Not terrifyingly busy, you understand, just a few cars and things.  You identify a gap.  If you get your finger out, you and the car behind will have plenty of time to enter the roundabout.  What do you do?

Answer: you take a moment or two to conduct a thorough Wess Curntry risk assessment.  When the moment has passed, you set off into what used to be a gap.  With your finger firmly not out, you saunter your way across the roundabout towards Kwiksave® but hey, look, it is not Kwiksave any more, isn’t that fascinating, shall we pop in, no perhaps not, or shall we, shan’t we, oops, was that the turning?  Thus creating a de facto skid pad in front of the supermarket that definitely isn’t Kwiksave.

  1. You are driving past a newsagent.  Your child wants a Curly Wurly®.  There is, most inconsiderately, no car park slap bang in front of the Curly Wurly stand.  Instead there are some yellow lines, a blind bend, a zebra crossing and a juggernaut parked opposite delivering doughnuts.  What do you do?
  2. You are sitting next to a scarecrow.  The scarecrow is full of straw.  The straw is dry and flammable.  You want to light your pipe.  What do you do?

You get the gist.

This appears to be going on all the time, everywhere I go.  The Wess Curntry must be an actuary’s nightmare. 

So I am actually quite relieved to learn, from papers sent to the Internal Governance Committee to review, that CIPA’s contingency funds are invested in a moderate-risk portfolio and are not going to be frittered away on volatile dotcom bubbles or devil-may-care zimmer frame owners.  Vive le cautious approach, I say!  I have had enough of the risk-takers this week.

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