Sunday, 31 May 2015

Eating in Scotland

29 April 2015, 10 am

My Meet-the-Biscuits, I mean Meet-the-Members, campaign continues.  I am still having excellent fun.  In fact, I am, in the words of the great politician David Cameron, totally Pumped Up about this campaign.

Today it is Scotland, which means a ridiculously early start to get to EasyJet® Airport on the outskirts of Brizzle in time for a ridiculously cramped flight to Glasgow.  In Glasgow I am treated to shortbread and in Edinburgh, later in the day, extremely chocolate-coated biscuits.  At the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, the people from the PatLib team buy me a slice of ginger cake, although we then start talking about IP triage and the medical allusions do put me off the cake a bit.  Sadly, no-one offers me haggis-flavoured shortcake, as I’d been hoping, but you can’t have it all.

Not that I am obsessed with what people give me to eat, you understand. 

In Edinburgh another deranged CIPA member, clearly overcome by bonhomie and biscuits, offers himself up as a regional representative.  I say You don’t need to decide today; I’ll send you some information, but he says No really, I want to do this, and it is like he is standing on the edge of an ice-cold crocodile-infested lake and would just like to jump in and get it over with as quickly as possible.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Election countdown

28 April 2015, 4 pm

The Election is on.  Voting begins.  I am not talking about the General Election, of course, but about the Specific Election, which is for CIPA Council and the new Pee and VeePee, and it is possible that the new Pee will be me.  Which is scary, whichever way you look at it. 

I log on and cast my votes.  I decide I had probably better vote for myself although I am still not 100% convinced this is the best of the available options.  I am hoping that one or two other people also vote for me, because it doesn’t seem right, somehow, that you can become Pee just by voting for yourself and nobody else having the time and energy to oppose you.

That’s the trouble with democracy: it only works if you’ve got more than one person stupid enough to stand in the firing line.  Perhaps we should make every CIPA Fellow stand for President at least once in their career; the voting would be heaps more fun that way.

IPO biscuits (an apology)

28 April 2015, 3 pm

I am chatting to the IPO on the phone about webinars.  When we have finished the serious stuff, they tell me that one of their colleagues is upset because my blog didn’t mention the biscuits he organised for our last meeting.  I am mortified beyond belief.  It is one thing going round being tactless to senior dignitaries when you are supposed to be gracious and VeePee-like, but you cannot insult people’s choice of biscuits.

So, to make amends:


(Actually, ITMA ate more of the biscuits than I did.)

(Just saying.)

Friday, 29 May 2015

A Magni#fficent Mani#ffesto

23 April 2015

CIPA launches its Magnificent Manifesto and CIPA: The Movie with the cartoon trees.  The watering can spout has gained a rose, to show that it is indeed a watering can spout and not just a peripheral view of somebody getting rid of an evening’s worth of beer.  To be clear: the IP in IPA does not normally stand for Intellectual Property.

Mr Lampert, our Chief Shouty Person, has called the manifesto and the movie “An Economy of Ideas”.  They are quite, quite brilliant.  I am filled with a warm sense of pride, and am almost beginning to look forward to being President at such an exciting time.  There is evidence to suggest that things are now so buoyant at CIPA that even a year of me will not suffice to deflate them.  


24 April 2015

Today is #ff Friday and I have learnt that on Twitter® you can #ff someone on a Friday and that this is actually a Nice Thing to do not an insult like you would expect.  I try to think of someone I like well enough to #ff them and who will not misunderstand the gesture and tell me to #ff myself.  After nearly an hour of #ff-ing around on this I have to stop to spend some time with the #ff family.  I guess I have #ff failed as a Twitterer.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

FameLab is great!

22 April 2015, 7.30 pm

We go on to the finals of an event called FameLab.  FameLab is great.  You get young enthusiastic scientists and you give them three minutes to talk in an entertaining and fired-up kind of way about something scientific, and then you decide who was the most entertaining and fired-up and give them a massive cardboard cheque which no-one will cash.  The speakers are not allowed Powerpoint®, only props, which is certainly a good starting point if you are aiming to entertain.

Most of the young enthusiasts were not even born when I drank my first gin and tonic, or indeed my thousandth.  (I am currently at 8,912 although the real total may be higher as some of my memories aren’t 100% numerically reliable.)  From them we learn many things, however:

  1. Weedkiller + rocket fuel + fireworks = oxygen.  And, perhaps more scarily, this is how oxygen is generated on board an aircraft when the cabin pressure drops.  (On EasyJet® you pay a separate supplement for each of the three ingredients, and obviously there is little point just paying for the first two.)  I am not sure about the ratios of the reactants, so you should not try this at home even if you do happen to have a supply of rocket fuel in your garage.
  2. Puffer fish toxins can be used to create zombies.  Or indeed just normal dead people.
  3. When you are in love, lots of hormones surge around your body and this is why you act strangely.  If you act strangely at other times, there may be another reason, and you should seek professional help.
  4. Crystallisation is a bit like people dancing the Macarena in a night club.  If you turn the wrong way at the wrong time you create a different polymorph.  As a chemist but a rather muddled one, suddenly I understand much better now.
  5. The number 1 appears loads more times than any other number.  No matter where you look.  You can use this to detect fraud because if a set of accounts has the same number of 1s as 2s or 3s or 4s, someone is clearly not being a proper mathematician.

  1. Insulin is produced by angry E. coli bacteria, who would presumably rather be in someone’s gut causing life-threatening illnesses than sitting on a petri dish being genetically-engineered to save people.

  1. The colour magenta doesn’t exist.  So really, we should all stop using it.  This should instantly reduce the price of printer ink by a quarter.

  1. Expectant fathers can make themselves useful during labour (no, really), by plotting the duration and frequency of contractions on a spreadsheet and using simple mathematical models to predict the eventual time of birth.  Apparently there is an app to help you do this.  Apparently it is not very popular with expectant mothers.  Apparently they are not hugely interested in lines of best fit.

Anyway, Mr Davies and I are hoping that next year we can find some young enthusiastic patent attorneys to be all entertaining and fired-up in the FameLab competition.  But we are thinking that a certain amount of reconditioning may be necessary to turn a patent attorney into an entertainer, so we are probably better off asking trainees not senior partners.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Shaun the Sheep™

22 April 2015, 5.30 pm

Mr Davies, Mr Lampert, the EyePeePee Train Man and I have come to see Shaun the Sheep outside the Royal Exchange, with some patent attorney friends.  We are offered rather interesting canapés, which Mr Davies is a bit picky about, but I notice he is not quite so picky over the drinks he’s been given. 
After the canapés, Mr Davies takes a photo of me with Shaun the Sheep and sends the photo off to be Twittered about.  He says I should have climbed onto Shaun’s back for a more domineering type of pose but I don’t think I should risk my posh frock, or my reputation, in front of all those people. 
I would like it to be known that if the Vice-President of CIPA appears to lack dignity, it is not entirely her fault.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A Very Important Lunch (or: the Battle of the Turnip Balls)

22 April 2015, 1 pm

I am at lunch with the Very Important Man who has the ear of Government when it comes to professional business services.  But it is OK because there are other patent attorneys there, as well as the Pee and the EyePeePee and the Chief Eggsek, so I do not have to say much and when I do there are plenty of people to kick me under the table.

It is a posh lunch.  The Very Important Man has a remote control at his side to summon in the next course whenever he gets bored with my conversation.  When we run out of courses he will summon Security.

We tell him about what we see on the horizon for the UK’s IP professions.  I am glad that we have just put together our Magnificent Manifesto, because this shows that we actually have been up in the crow’s nest with our telescopes recently rather than mumbling grumpily below deck like we used to.

During the discussions, I engage in a private battle with the posh lunch.  This raises one or two questions in my mind.  How, in polite company, are you supposed to handle turnip balls?  What kind of person has time to fashion perfect spheres out of flavourless root vegetables?  And what happens to the rest of the turnip?  Are the nation’s food banks overflowing with turnip ball peripheries?  These are first world questions, I know, but right now I could do with some answers.  I do not want to launch a turnip ball into the lap of the Very Important Man just when the others are telling him that the IP profession is crucial to the economy.

Monday, 25 May 2015

IP and the Economy

22 April 2015, 10.30 am

A group of us meet with the IPO’s economists.  They are planning all sorts of research into the impact of IP on the Economy.  This is good because there was a time when the Economy hardly knew IP existed or indeed cared.  These days it is getting more interested, having realised that due to the difficulty in putting a value on intangible assets, they are extremely useful for creating extra wealth when you need it.

The IPO’s research will be bold and ground-breaking.  For example, they are hoping to get statistics on IP licensing and royalties.  So long as their respondents don’t complain that this looks more like industrial espionage than research.

Some foreign IP offices are working with the IPO's economists too.  So at CIPA we are pleased to be involved because we are hoping to spread the word that if you need information about IP in Europe, there is no better place to come than 95 Chancery Lane.  We are also hoping to add in some industrial espionage I mean research of our own.  For instance, we are going to suggest that the IPO spearheads a global investigation into What the Germans Will Be Up to Next, as well as The International Impact of Chartered Patent Attorneys Being Absolutely Brilliant.

At the personal level, I am hoping that the research into IP and the Economy will reveal that my life has had some meaning after all, and not, as my kids have always maintained, that it has been squandered on delusional and ultimately meaningless navel-gazing. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Sherpa Groups & dodgy videos

21 April 2015

I have called a teleconference of the diversity task force leaders.  These are the poor unfortunates who’ve agreed to wear extra sparkly blue tights and red underpants, and to lead the four strands of work we’re doing to improve diversity.  The meeting involves me asking the others what they’ve done in their individual working groups so far, whilst not actually admitting that I haven’t done anything myself.  This is a high-level management technique known as “pulling all the strands together”.  Shortly I will draw myself an Over-Arching Roadmap, like there is for the UPC, so that I can see who is doing what whilst I’m busy doing nothing.

I have heard it said that these days, working groups are called “Sherpa Groups”, by the people who sit above them drawing over-arching roadmaps.  I understand this is something to do with the fact that Sherpas do most of the hard work.  But it is also because Sherpas know where they are going and can get there on their own without interference from upper management, thank you.

The key thing that is happening at the moment – and it is happening Very Fast because the Informals are involved and they don’t hang around – is that we are recording some video clips about how great it is in the IP professions.  We are going to include lots of people from lots of different backgrounds, to show the next generation how open and inclusive the IP professions are, even to ragamuffins like the EyePeePee or straw-shedding numpties like me.

We are going to make the videos all rough and blurred and shaky, which is partly so that they will appeal to Youngsters and partly because it is cheaper that way; you can use your mate’s smartphone in the pub after work.  For the time being we are overlooking the bit in the Code of Conduct about preserving the dignity and good standing of the IP professions.  And let’s face it once we let Diversity in, and all those black transgender women from inner city prison schools, there will be very little dignity and good standing left to preserve.  We will have to rewrite the Code of Conduct to say:

  1. Just turn up to work every now and then, OK?
  2. And don’t nick things from your client.
  3. Or at least not without issuing an invoice.
  4. And if you do nick things, keep them in a separate client account.
  5. Try to tell the truth, especially if you are leaking stuff on social media.  (Guidance note: truth is stuff that more than two of your mates agree with.)
  6. The rest is up to you, innit?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Regional reps

20 April 2015

It appears we have another volunteer to be a Regional Representative.  This one is for Merseyside and the North-West.  We also have one for the Land of Cat-flaps I mean Flat Caps (ie T’Oop North But Not the Bit on t’Wrong Side o’ t’Pennines) and one for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (ie The Seaside).  We have a potential volunteer for the Wess Curntry too, but he is still thinking about whether it is wise to take responsibility for what happens in Zummerzet bearing in mind the amount of straw there is.  I hope he agrees anyway.

It is going to be great being a regional rep.  You will be able to run happy hours, and happy hours disguised as CPD seminars, and happy hours disguised as Collaborative Training Experiences, all on your own doorstep and subsidised by CIPA.  You will be sent hot-off-the-press Institute news to disseminate among the patent attorneys in your region, and when they complain you will be able to channel the complaints directly to CIPA without needing to spend hours on LinkedIn®.  You will have your own email address, and a bit of space on the whizzy new website when it is built.  You may even get a list of CIPA members in your region, once the replacement database is up and running, which is quite a luxury because at the moment if anyone wants such complex information the Membership Team have to spend hours on Google Maps.

And if you are ambitious, you will be able to build up enough of a following to push for devolution, which is quite fashionable these days, and then you will be able to have your own Council and your own Presidential swimming-gala medal. 

But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s just start with the happy hours.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

All about Council

19 April 2015

I decide to prepare some guidelines for new Council members.  In the past, when you joined Council, it all came as a nasty shock. 

So I start writing.  First I explain about CIPA’s Governance Structure and how Council fits into it; I do not mention square pegs and round holes although I am tempted to.  Then I explain how Council meetings work, which they don’t, usually, so I have to make a lot of this up.  Finally I explain what is expected of Council members.  This bit is cribbed from what I have heard Mr Davies say he would like Council members to do.  I might have to add a glossary for some of the terms he uses, because they are not normally in a patent attorney’s vocabulary.

I include guidance on reclaiming expenses (primarily, don’t try anything clever because the IGC will see straight through it) and on CIPA’s current biscuit policy.  Then I explain about Council being transparent and accountable, especially to its own members, which is why we always get shown the agenda a day or so in advance and not just at the meeting like on some of the committees, and we always get shown the minutes to make sure they say what we thought we’d said and not what other people heard, and we sometimes get shown the papers in case we want to understand what we’re making decisions about although clearly this bit is optional because as all good meeting attendees know, a decision is best made on the day once you know how your arch-enemy is going to vote.

In the bit about the Governance Structure, I get a bit fancy-pantsy and lyrical and talk about Council being the brain and conscience of the Institute and the committees and staff being its eyes and ears and limbs.  This is stretching a metaphor, I know, because if Council really were a brain then all the psychotherapists in the world wouldn’t know what to do with it, but I am relying on the Poetic Licence defence.

The EyePeePee, who is a bit soft like that, says he would like to see a reference to the Institute’s heart.  Tumbleweed drifts through our inboxes.  Eventually I say Perhaps the heart of CIPA is its members?  I say this because the brain cannot function without the heart but the heart can keep beating long after the brain has departed the real world, and this seems entirely appropriate in the context.  Mr Davies asks Which bit of the Institute is the liver?, and I know he has asked this because the liver produces bile but I refuse to rise to the bait.  I am not going to go through Gray’s Anatomy assigning organs to the various parts of CIPA; that way would surely lie disaster.  Although I can think of an obvious medical metaphor for the Vice-President who got in by accident and is waiting to be found out.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Looks like I am going to be the Pee

16 April 2015, 5.30 pm

After the seminar, we bar the doors to stop people from accidentally missing the OGM.  Some of them still manage to accidentally miss it, but we have just about enough left to hold the meeting and at the meeting we approve the ballot list for this year’s elections.  Right up until the last minute, I hold on to the hope that someone else might stand for President, and then I can say Oh alright then; after you.  But they don’t.  Rats.  It looks like I am going to be the Pee next year.

So it is time to make a list of the things I am going to do with my new powers.  I have some initial ideas.  For example, I would like to legalise undignified behaviour under the CIPA Bye-laws.  Just in case, you understand, and more for Mr Davies’s benefit than mine.  It will also be vital to emancipate and mobilise Biscuit Pixies the length and breadth of the country.  I plan to introduce a set of rules for Council and committee meetings, under which you have to shut up if you talk for more than three minutes or if someone throws a biscuit at you.  And I will outlaw the removal of commas from CIPA documents, ditto the removal of humour and personality, and also ring the people who make the CIPA tie pins and tell them they had better come up with something more creative and it had better not be cufflinks either or there will be Trouble.

Obviously I will need to amend the Bye-laws to say that the Chief Eggsek cannot tell the Pee or the VeePee what to do, like he tries to at the moment.  In fact, I will amend the Bye-laws to say that the President can do anything she wants and just you try and stop me.  Mwa ha ha!

But my main objective is a longer-term one, and it is this.  I want CIPA to evolve into an organisation so influential that people are queuing up to be President.  It really shouldn’t be possible for a walking gin-and-tonic to rock up from the Wess Curntry with a rucksack full of straw and a head full of, well, also straw actually, and become an officer of CIPA with a badge and a swimming-gala medal.  And spend the next twelve months waiting to be found out.

Friday, 15 May 2015

CIPA: The Movie

16 April 2015, 4 pm

Following a bit of an argument with his laptop, Mr Lampert treats the seminar delegates to a sneak preview of CIPA: The Movie.  This is a short animation about the importance of IP to the economy and the importance of CIPA to IP.  It is absolutely marvellous.  It is also quite unlike anything CIPA has ever put into the public domain before.  It stars some cartoon trees which sprout money instead of leaves, and a lot of circles, which are Virtuous Circles to show that if you look after your IP it will make you money and then you can invest the money in more IP and that way you can keep your local patent attorneys in the manner to which they have become accustomed.  

There is also a cartoon watering can to water the cartoon trees, but you only see its spout and some of us are worried that the spout doesn’t look like a watering can at all.

We are going to launch our cartoon circles to mark World IP Day, together with our Magnificent Manifesto.  Mr Davies has been tweaking the manifesto to make it absolutely perfect, and Mr Lampert has been making it look colourful, and I think possibly Mr Davies has added in something to suggest Professor Brian Cox should be the next Prime Minister.  It is going to be the most exciting World IP Day ever.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Pickle-planning in Brizzle

16 April 2015, 10 am

The Pee, the Chief Eggsek (AKA Mr Davies) and I visit some patent attorneys in Brizzle.  They tell us they would like to do more to help CIPA.  We say Excellent, you are just in time; here are the application forms for being President and Vice-President.  They say No, not that kind of help.

In the afternoon, it is the annual West of England CPD seminar.  Since I have 90 million CPD points already this year, due to having to tag along to every single CIPA meeting and also being quite bad at adding up, I bow out of some of the talks and help Mr Davies and Mr Lampert to plan the New President’s Pickled Anatomy Party.  I am going to go as an appendix, because that is the part that no-one really needs any more.

We make a list of the people we’re going to invite to the Pickled Anatomy Party.  They say I cannot bring my own friends, and I say that’s OK because I don’t think she’s free that day.  But I am allowed to invite Influential People, who will be just thrilled to meet the UK’s chief patent attorney I’m sure.  Perhaps the Prime Minister, only we do not know yet who that will be; and The Queen, who is a bit easier to pin down because she has been The Queen for ever; and of course Professor Brian Cox who has still not replied to Mr Davies’s letter but would surely be delighted to address a roomful of floating body parts even if some of them were a bit nerdy.


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The President's drinks reception

15 April 2015

The CIPA Team and I are planning a drinks reception for the new President, just in case we end up with a decent one.  (If we end up with me, they have explained that the drinks reception will have to be downgraded to a cup of tea and a biscuit.  And no guests.)

They have found a fabulous venue.  It is the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons.  Apparently the museum walls are lined with jars full of body parts, which previous generations of surgeons have extracted from their patients and forgotten to put back.  A perfect reminder of CIPA’s penchant for preserving the past.  

I think this sounds like a fun place to visit but I warn them to take care over the canapé menu.  Steer clear of anything pickled, I say, and anything in a marinade.  Devilled kidneys are definitely out.  Mussels could have been mis-spelled.  Meatballs may be a euphemism, especially if they are mini meatballs.  Even artichoke hearts should be treated with suspicion.

That said, of course, if we run out of drinks we can always turn to the exhibits for top-ups.

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Administrators' Committee

9 April 2015

CIPA is still without communications.  The jewel thieves have refused to give the internet back.  Or something.  BT seems not to have a Cunning Plan of its own and so no-one is able to ring up the jewel thieves to negotiate.

We continue, undaunted, with the second meeting of our new Administrators’ Committee.  Everyone dials in to a bit of the internet that hasn’t yet been stolen, and in this way we hold our deliberations in a virtual space somewhere just north of Kettering.  Ms Sear updates us on the new version of the administrators’ course, which will be up and running in time for September 2015 provided the horoscopes are favourably aligned, one or two minor miracles occur (including reassembly of the internet) and everybody gets their fingers out pronto.

We talk about the benefits that CIPA should be providing for its administrator members.  Funnily enough, nobody mentions a special version of the CIPA tie pin.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Thoughts on diversity

7 April 2015

Back to work.  I begin making my own Cunning Plans for the diversity task force (da-da-da-DA!!). 

On Twitter® and the IPKat, some folk are still banging on about the stupidness of trying to improve diversity.  They say: if you are going to start support groups for women and Asians and gays and state school-educated slobs and all sorts of other weirdos, then you should also start a support group for white middle class men.  To which I say: we already have support groups for white middle class men.  They are all over the place.  They are called Board Meetings and Partners’ Meetings and Council Meetings and if you are a white middle class male in IP and have not yet found your way to one of these support groups then you probably have a lot more to worry about than competition from black transgender women.  Better start scanning the job adverts.

I do not understand the problem with trying to improve diversity, anyway.  Call me naïve, but does it not simply boil down to Being Nice to People?  And if you spot people who look lonely or vulnerable, should you not be Extra Nice to them?  #Justsaying.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Looking at water & missing the fun

3 April 2015

This week I have been mainly looking at water.  I have not therefore been doing any CIPA work. 

My kagoul is wet.  The clothes I was wearing underneath my kagoul are wet, thus leading me to question what feature of said kagoul actually qualifies it as a waterproof over-garment.  My walking boots are covered in souvenirs of sheep, “souvenirs” being in this context a euphemism and unrelated to jelly beans. 

There were indeed no hovercraft and no garibaldis.  A ferry across a lake with a slab of Kendal Mint Cake in my pocket proved scant compensation.  The Mint Cake has in any case turned into Kendal Mint Sauce, on account of the apparently non-existent water-repelling properties of the kagoul.  It has a taste of sheep about it too, and I am not talking about the Sunday roast type of flavour.

While I was away, I missed the April Council meeting.  This was intended to be the highlight of the week (the missing of it, that is; not the meeting itself).  But what do you know?  They pick this week to enjoy major excitement at 95 Chancery Lane.  A band of top-level jewel thieves instigates a Cunning Plan to shut down Holborn and Chancery Lane with some underground pyrotechnics, so as to be free to raid a load of posh shops while everyone else is running around wondering how to function without the internet.  The CIPA building is evacuated and Council has to relocate en masse to another venue.  The desire not to be in a burning building is possibly the only thing that all Council members have agreed on for the last ten years.  Although I imagine that once out on the street, there would have been lengthy debate about relocation procedures and the Bye-Laws.

Why, oh why do I always miss all the fun??


27 March 2015, 10 am

The whale of a time continues.  Mr Davies and I visit some patent attorneys on the Isle of Wight.  They claim that they work there and are not really on holiday all the time, honest.

Visiting the Isle of Wight involves going on a hovercraft.  I am as excited as a little kid.  I almost forget to take notes in the meeting.  The Isle of Wight Pixies have delivered garibaldi biscuits, so Mr Davies is as excited as a little kid too.  We very nearly buy ourselves a stick of rock on the way back.  But at the last minute Mr Davies says no, he prefers a beer or two.

I have to say I am impressed with the hovercraft.  It is a big and noisy beast but you can reverse it out of its parking space quicker than I can turn my car round, and you can drive it out of the parking space, down a pebble beach and straight across the water, which I definitely cannot do in my car although I’m sure Top Gear® would have tried. 

The automated booking system which goes with the hovercraft is, however, slightly less impressive and not particularly automated.  It involves somebody reading the email from Unlucky Gary, scribbling a note on a couple of raffle tickets and shoving them into an envelope with Mr Davies’s name on the front.  The note on the raffle tickets has the wrong date on it, and so we have to go back to the man-in-the-kiosk, who is already quite busy selling jelly beans and other hovercraft souvenirs, and ask him nicely to scribble on some new raffle tickets so that we can travel across today as originally planned, and not last week as written on the first set of raffle tickets.  Fortunately we manage to complete this complicated process just in time to get on today’s hovercraft.  It is practically empty.  Presumably this is because lots of people are still queueing up to be issued incorrect tickets and jelly beans. 


27 March 2015, 4 pm

When I get home from the Isle of Wight, which is many motorway miles later, my family remind me that I am supposed to be setting off on a proper holiday to the Lake District and so I had better repack my suitcase.  Apparently it is not the done thing to go to the Lake District with a folder full of meeting notes, a laptop and a couple of posh suits. 

They explain to me what the word “holiday” means, and what the word “family” means when attached to the word “holiday”, and then they explain to me about the terrain and the climate in the Lake District and point me in the direction of my walking boots and kagoul.  I am disappointed to learn that there are no hovercrafting opportunities in the Lakes and that there will be no garibaldis in our family picnics.  This strikes me as a pretty poor show but I am told to shut up and get in the car anyway.  Even the souvenir hovercraft jelly beans are not going to get me out of this one.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

A whale of a time

26 March 2015

Today I am having a whale of a time with Mr Davies and the EyePeePee.  It is all part of my Grand Tour, which seems to be taking several months longer than I had initially envisaged but is proving such excellent fun I never want it to stop.

First we visit some patent attorneys at IBM, which is like visiting a stately home set in acres of landscaped gardens, except that there is no gift shop and no mobile phone signal either, and in the case of the mobile phone signal you have to wonder what a company like IBM is playing at if it can’t even get its electronicky stuff right.

Next we visit some patent attorneys in Winchester.  Winchester is posh.  It has lots of gift shops and plenty of mobile phone signal, so much that there is even enough to spare for my rubbishy network that usually broadcasts from outer space via a black hole.  Also when you visit patent attorneys in Winchester you do not just get biscuits, you get sumptuous home-made cakes and things which look like biscuits but are actually large lumps of chocolate with a mere delicate hint of something biscuit-like inside.  I am thinking that the Biscuit Pixies of Winchester are rather up-market pixies and would never dream of going to Poundworld® like the pixies Oop North.  In this part of the UK, Greggs® is a patisserie.  A pork pie is called pork terrine en croute and the children spend their pocket money on petit fours not on Fruit Salad chews like what I used to.

Over the sumptuous home-made cakes, we have a lively debate about the future of CIPA and of the IP profession as a whole.  This is a subject dear to my heart, and it is encouraging to hear that it is not just me scanning the horizon for pirates and other similar threats.  I take care, though, not to spit sumptuous home-made cake crumbs at the other people in the meeting.  Because you cannot bow out of a debate gracefully if you have just showered your fellow debaters with patisserie.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Dead posh at The Ritz

25 March 2015

Wow!  I am at The Ritz.  It is dead posh and plush and there are blokes everywhere with white gloves on, helping you find your way to the right doorway.  I am pointed in the direction of the revolving door five times before they finally let me stay inside.

Today is the Licensing Executives Society annual seminar and lunch, and I have been invited as the after-lunch speaker.  I am not supposed to be nicking all the Ritz souvenir pens but I cannot help myself.

Despite being posh and plush and riddled with white-gloved men, The Ritz is not very good at serving lunch on schedule.  By the time I stand up to make my speech, most people have gone back to work for the afternoon.  Those who are left are either busy dealing with their desserts, or have started on their afternoon naps.  I try to keep an eye on my own dessert, in case anyone pinches it while they are supposed to be listening to my speech.

I tell people that we must all train together so that patent attorneys can become more commercially aware and licensing people can understand why it is not a piece of cake to get a patent for something simply because it happens to be in the business plan.  Pretty much all of my talks go along these lines.  It makes them easier to remember.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Random March musings

20 March 2015

There is something astronomical going on with the sun today.  My techy son leaves me a tin-foil filter to look through and heads off to school with his telescope. 

I peer at the sun.  It looks pretty much like the moon.  And since the moon gets eclipsed several times a month, I cannot really see what all the fuss is about.  I put the filter in the kitchen drawer with the baking foil.  It might come in useful next time we have a barbecue. 


23 March 2015

Someone on the diversity task force tells me that there is an organisation called the “STEMettes”.  STEMettes are girlies who do STEM subjects.  Like patent attorneyettes are girlies who do patent attorneying.  People laughed at me when I started using that term.  Well, ha!  It is catching on, see?  I tell him we absolutely have to work with the STEMettes because how could you not work with a group of people who call themselves that?? 


24 March 2015

I go to see the dentist, who assumes I also want to spend £40 seeing the hygienist, who clamps me down and attacks my teeth before I have the opportunity to question whether the assumption is fairly based.  There is the usual piped music in the air.  It is a special dentists-only recording of Bits-of-Vivaldi-that-you-really-must-listen-to-while-having-Stuff-removed-from-your-Teeth.  Every dentist has this recording.  I do not think it is worth £40.

Vivaldi originally wrote four seasons.  There seem to be at least twenty-four in the dentists’ recording.  Perhaps that is how they justify the £40.  One of the twenty-four seasons resonates painfully with the whizzing whining polishing instrument.  Winter, I think.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A wheeze of workshops

19 March 2015, 2.30 pm

This year’s Leeds seminar is turning out to be quite unlike any other.  Someone had the daft idea that instead of falling asleep listening to lectures, it would be a bit of a wheeze if we did some workshops instead.  A roomful of patent attorneys emits a collective sigh on hearing this news.  Laptops are slammed shut with resignation and not a little resentment.  Some of us were hoping to file oppositions this afternoon.

We assemble into groups and go through someone else’s patent, with the benefit of a hindsight that can only come of knowing how the patent was macerated by a High Court judge, and decide how much better a job we could have done OF COURSE.  Actually I find this quite hard work.  As a chemist, I am used to drafting claims that require a bit of A and a bit of B and some C and a cupful of D, all stirred up at a ratio no-one can clarify yet and for use in the treatment of something nasty and medical-sounding.  I had forgotten how hard it is to draft a claim for a mechanical device, especially one with pivots and pins and levers and cams, which must surely be at the cutting edge of science so no wonder I am struggling. 

After the seminar-which-was-not-really-a-seminar, I attend the usual happy hour and dinner.  The Pee has had to leave early, so it falls to me to do the speeches.  I make them very, very short.  I do not say grace because God is unlikely to listen, me being a heathen and all, so I hope that nobody gets food poisoning tomorrow because if they do they will know who to blame.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Flat caps & cat-flaps

19 March 2015, 9.30 am

In York, the Pee and I meet with some even Ooper North CIPA members.  They give us some suitably direct, northern feedback.  Like, one of them says he has no idea what CIPA gets up to, or why, and at one point he even seems unsure whether or not he’s a member.  Fortunately, by the end of the meeting he has remembered that he is a member after all, and volunteered to be a regional representative for Leeds and York and anywhere else where flat caps (not to be confused with cat-flaps) are part of the national costume.  This is quite a special role since the Chancellor announced yesterday that Leeds is about to get greater autonomy and before long it could be a separate sovereign state. 

I am not sure whether the Unitary Patent will extend to Leeds.  No doubt our new Regional Rep for Cat-flaps will keep us in the picture.

Biscuits in Leeds

18 March 2015

I visit lots of CIPA members in Leeds.  To get to Leeds you have to go a long way up the M1 – which is a vital part of the UK’s roadworks infrastructure – until you have almost given up hope, and then you have to turn left.  Then you turn left again and you are in Poundworld®.  Only you must park your car first, and unfortunately that costs quite a bit more than a pound.

The CIPA members are very hospitable.  I get biscuits, then lunch, then more biscuits.  I get quizzed on the Strategic Plan, which I am pleased about because it shows people have actually read the document rather than using it as a placemat. 

One of the meetings is a video-conference that people have networked into from other Oop North places.  I have never done a video-conference before.  I do not know where to look.  There is a camera to one side and there are the Leeds people on the other side and if I look at the camera the Leeds people will think I am rude but if I look at the Leeds people the folk elsewhere will think I am shifty and untrustworthy.  In the end I settle for looking at the biscuits.  They are full of calories, of course, but these are northern calories so they do not make you fat they just make you well ’ard.  I take two.