Monday, 23 February 2015

The diversity meeting

27 January 2015, 10 am

I am at CIPA, ready to chair the scary meeting about diversity in the IP professions.  My Brilliant-Idea-in-a-can is at my side.

The Lady Minister IP Baroness arrives with her aide in tow.  I offer them a drink.  The Lady Minister’s coffee just about goes OK but my nervousness, together with the wobbliness of the CIPA refreshments table, leads to the aide’s tea ending up in a location almost totally unrelated to that of his cup.  Or indeed of any of the cups.  I engage in some hasty Vice-Presidential mopping-up with quite a lot of kitchen towel and even more embarrassment.

We begin.  The Baroness IP Minister Lady makes a speech about how lovely it is to be at CIPA Hall, which she says has particularly red walls, and about how important it is for the world to know about IP and for IP to be full of diversity.  She tells us heartening stories from her own career, and answers questions about inspirational role models, which let’s face it we are sometimes a bit short of in IP.  This nicely fills half an hour or so, thus leaving me with half an hour less in which to make a fool of myself.

Then the Minister IP Lady Baroness leaves, with her tea-stained aide, and I am on my own.  I look fiercely at the delegates.  I tell them they must be constructive.  And concise.  And we do not have time for anecdotes, I say, glaring at them, because I know how patent attorneys love to preface their comments with stories about things that happened to them in 1962 and that by the end of the story both they and their listeners have forgotten what it is they were commenting on.

They tell anecdotes. 

It is a heartening discussion, all the same.  Everyone wants more diversity.  Everyone has good ideas.  We are going to have an Action Plan and I am going to build another Task Force (da-da-da-DA!!) and we are all going to work together to make stuff better.  We are even going to hold another meeting in a year’s time, to check that we are still making stuff better.

I mention my Brilliant-Idea-in-a-can about university sponsorship.  Mr Davies says it is so revolutionary that he might have to go and lie down.  Not so fast, sunshine: you have a job to do.  Like, tweeting the world about our Action Plan.

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