Saturday, 21 February 2015
I am planning to stand for CIPA President in this year’s elections. I have drafted a “manifesto” of sorts, setting out what that might mean for the Institute. I wanted to make it public nice and early, so that people had the chance to challenge and question me on it; to stand against me if they preferred an alternative approach; or to stand for Council or even as Vice-President if they were willing to help me implement it.
I intend to stand for the post of CIPA President in the 2015 elections.
There is no official job description for the President. So, I have put together some thoughts on the type of President I might be capable of being and willing to be. I have included the activities I would like to undertake, and the issues I would like to progress, if I am elected.
I should point out that many of these would build on, or simply continue, the excellent work begun by my predecessors.
Please, judge me on these. I hope that they will help you decide whether I am the right person for the role, come the elections in May.
I propose to be a President who leads. I will lead CIPA as an organisation, its staff, its committees and its governing Council. I will take responsibility for making things happen. I will consult with others, and where appropriate I will hold them to account.
I will embrace, indeed promote, change, because I have seen that change invigorates CIPA, and because change is what keeps us alert and in touch. Ironically, a voice for change is in this context a voice for continuity, because CIPA already is changing; it is growing; it is modernising. I do not want us to lose that momentum.
I will push for adoption of the measures outlined in the 2014 Strategic Plan, and for prioritising and evaluating CIPA’s activities and policies in line with it. I will ensure it is reviewed and updated before the end of 2015, so that our targets remain ambitious yet achievable, and aligned with both members’ views and external developments.
I will ensure that the CIPA manifesto, which we are currently drafting, is used to maximum effect, that it properly informs CIPA’s work and that it too is updated after its first year.
I propose to establish a working group to monitor forthcoming opportunities and threats for the UK profession – whether to do with business practice, competition in the marketplace, regulation or any other relevant issues – and to recommend strategies in response.
Meanwhile, I will aim to make SILC (Status-Influence-Learning-Community) the bedrock of all CIPA’s activities and policies.
“Learning” is arguably the most important of the four SILC pillars. It raises our standards, and thus our status, which in turn increases our influence. At the same time, working together to provide and to participate in learning experiences fosters a greater sense of community.
I will work closely with the new Education & Professional Standards Committee and CIPA’s Head of Education. Together we hope to:
· ensure that CIPA’s basic litigation skills course is open for business by mid-2015.
· prepare a set of “occupational standards” for chartered patent attorneys, and use those standards to inform and shape CIPA’s work on education, training (including CPD) and the promotion of high professional standards.
· introduce more “non-core” training, in particular in business, commercial and client-facing skills.
· push forward initiatives to improve training standards across the profession.
· ensure that an updated patent administrators’ course is ready in time for the September 2015 intake.
· continue to professionalise CIPA’s education and training activities.
I will also work with the Joint CIPA/ITMA Business Practice Committee to support CIPA members more proactively, with early guidance and template documents, in matters to do with regulatory compliance and business practice.
In this context, I would hope to continue to do as President what I have been doing as Vice-President. All CIPA members should know who I am, what I stand for, what I am doing and why. Equally, I need to be sure I am doing what CIPA members want me to. And that when I don’t, they are willing and able to tell me.
I will make an effort to meet and listen to CIPA members, in private practice and industry, large organisations and small, throughout the UK, whether students, associates or qualified attorneys. The “Meet-the-Members” campaign will continue, until all the key regions of England, Scotland and Wales have been visited and, as far as possible, all invitations to visit members have been accepted. I will of course channel feedback from those visits to relevant committees, and propose new initiatives on the basis of members’ suggestions and requests.
It is important to me that CIPA engages effectively with its members outside London, and I would like to organise a system of regional representatives (whether individual CIPA members or firms) to help with this. I would also like to see “CIPA HQ” developed as a space that is more welcoming, and more useful, for visiting Institute members: I will work with the Chief Executive and his staff to try to make that happen.
I will report regularly on my CIPA-related activities. I will support the new Informals Committee and the new Administrators’ Committee, contributing to their publications, events and other resources when they think it appropriate, to ensure that both student and administrator members receive the support they need from their Institute. In all of these areas I will work closely with CIPA’s Membership Team and its Head of Media & PR, who are striving to improve the Institute’s dialogue with its members and to publicise more and better information about CIPA’s activities.
I promise to be approachable; to listen with humility and an open mind; to talk candidly about CIPA’s current and proposed activities and to encourage members to become involved. I will try to motivate and to inspire those who work for or with CIPA.
I will never stand on ceremony. I will make every effort to continue publishing the “Not-so-Secret Diary”, both in the Journal and on my blog, as a way of communicating about CIPA to members who might not otherwise show an interest. Its tone will remain humorous, tongue-in-cheek and slightly irreverent, because so many of you have been kind enough to tell me that that’s what appeals.
With the IP world expanding so rapidly around us, in terms not only of its size and economic importance but also of its diversity and complexity, I believe it is time for CIPA to tackle some big, strategic-level questions about where we want our profession, and our Institute, to be positioned in the future. Do we want to be an exclusive guild of master craftsmen, setting the gold standard in our “core” skills of drafting, prosecution and opinion work? Or do we want to be bolder, to retain our high standards but at the same time to open our membership to other IP professionals, to teach ourselves new skills, to appeal to more and different clients and to promote ourselves outside of our traditional core competencies?
Personally, I am in favour of CIPA extending its remit to all areas of IP and its membership to a wider range of IP professionals. Of course, at its core there will always be the chartered patent attorney, but the patent attorney no longer works alone and no longer sticks to drafting and prosecution, and I believe CIPA’s constitution and governance should reflect that. Our Institute should be able to speak with authority on all things IP-related, and to raise the status of the IP system as a whole by sharing its expertise and its impeccably high standards. As the world of IP expands, I would rather see CIPA at its centre than on the side-lines.
However, these questions affect the whole membership, and all members should have their say. I pledge to open a debate on the issue, and if necessary to hold a membership vote, the result to inform our decisions about the direction in which CIPA travels.
Perhaps the answers can be incorporated into the new Bye-laws; perhaps now is not the right time. Again, my own view is that rewriting the Bye-laws (neither a frequent nor a straightforward process) gives us a rare opportunity to modernise our structure and our approach. If that opportunity can be used to improve the long-term prospects for the UK IP profession, so much the better. But in any event, it is vital to ensure that the new Bye-laws provide sufficient flexibility for future generations of CIPA members, allowing the Institute to evolve to suit the changing IP landscape. I will fight to ensure that this happens.
The new Bye-laws will of course be put out to members for consultation before we even think about adopting them.
I would like to improve certain aspects of the way in which Council functions, in particular its efficiency, its agility and its focus on outcomes.
I expect the task of “leading” Council to be the hardest of all. Our governing body embraces – and rightly so – members from a range of backgrounds: consensus is often impossible, but this must not be allowed to cause a reactive or overly cautious approach. I will therefore try to ensure that Council makes quick but informed (and preferably bold) decisions; that it achieves measurable progress for the Institute; and that it provides direction and vision in the interests of our members’ long-term futures. I will encourage the adoption of individual remits for Council members, and contribution and commitment levels in line with those remits. I will also aim to tighten up the procedural aspects of Council’s business.
In the interests of efficiency, I will encourage the Internal Governance Committee (IGC) to delegate operational matters to the Chief Executive and his staff. I will support the executive team with their work on upgrading CIPA’s membership database, website and general IT systems, and with the outsourcing of the Journal, to ensure that all of these projects are completed before the end of 2015. And I will see that the IGC and the Chief Executive together address the issues surrounding the forthcoming expiry of CIPA’s lease on 95 Chancery Lane.
I will continue to help the IGC to tighten CIPA’s committee structure, in particular by encouraging all committees to define their objectives and terms of reference, in line with SILC, and by ensuring that all are effectively chaired and productive. I propose to instigate an annual meeting between the newly elected officers and the committee chairs, in which to establish priorities for the coming year, in line with the Strategic Plan and the Institute manifesto. I would like the committees to be a strong and vital structure through which ordinary CIPA members interact with the Institute and its work.
I will also continue to work closely with all CIPA employees, and to encourage stronger and more communicative working relationships between them and the committees.
The I in SILC (Influence) is also vital to CIPA. The better we can engage with our external stakeholders, the more influence we can exert on behalf of our members and their clients.
As promised in my Vice-Presidential election manifesto, I will strive to build relationships, not boundaries, on CIPA’s behalf. I will seek opportunities to collaborate with other individuals and organisations, to build new bridges and rebuild old ones. I will do whatever I can to increase CIPA’s influence, both in the UK and abroad; to raise awareness of IP; and to promote the UK IP profession and the CPA “brand”.
With the help of relevant committees, the Chief Executive and the other officers, I propose to:
· continue to foster good working relations with relevant external bodies, including ITMA, the IP Federation and FICPI; the UK IPO and the EPO; overseas professional bodies and IP Offices; IPReg and the LSB; and the IP Minister, the Professional and Business Services Council and the UK Government generally.
· encourage ongoing work on a CIPA “policy playbook”, to which the committees contribute with official CIPA position papers and briefing notes for both external and internal use.
· continue CIPA’s efforts to lobby on behalf of its members and their clients in issues related to the UPC, the EPO, regulation and other areas identified as important in the recent manifesto-drafting meeting.
· ensure that diversity-related projects from the January 2015 “round-table” meeting are implemented swiftly and enthusiastically, in collaboration with the other participants such as the IPO, ITMA, the IP Federation and FICPI-UK.
· help CIPA’s Head of Media & PR to organising more such events on significant IP topics of the day, to build CIPA’s reputation as a thought leader in its field.
· work to raise awareness of the IP professions among potential new entrants, thus helping CIPA members in their recruitment efforts.
I will seek to secure that the relationships we build are with the Institute as a whole, or at least with a team of CIPA representatives, and not just an individual President who holds office for only a year. Personally I have relatively little experience in areas such as litigation, international IP systems and non-patent IP. As President I would, however, have the active support of the Immediate Past President, Catriona Hammer, of the Honorary Secretary Chris Mercer, and of the many excellent specialist CIPA committees (for example the Patents Committee, the Litigation Committee and the International Liaison Committee), all of whom would be there to advise and steer and to help me represent CIPA’s interests.
I also hope to continue to strengthen CIPA’s relationship with IPReg, in particular by building a collaborative and business-like working relationship with Michael Heap’s successor and by continuing to attempt a more collaborative relationship with the Patent Regulation Board. It may be, however, that now is the time to establish a different relationship with our regulator; if that is the case, I will not shy away from beneficial new approaches.
If I am elected as President, I will lead CIPA with energy, enthusiasm and commitment. But I will only lead on things I believe are right for the Institute, and I will take counsel on such issues from the CIPA staff, CIPA members, fellow Council members and the committees, as well as from relevant external stakeholders. I will also delegate wherever possible to those with more expertise than I have on specific projects.
I will be honest, approachable and considerate. I will bring originality and creativity to the role. I will be open-minded and I will try to think strategically, leaving detailed management and day-to-day operations to those who are better placed to handle them. And I intend to be courageous, unafraid to put my neck on the line, to question, to challenge, when it matters.
I ask for your support. I intend to earn it.