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A seat in commercial IP...

20 January 2012

What does the team do?
The firm is one of the strongest IP specialists outside of London, and the team has an impressive range of clients and fee earners with a vast range of experience.

The team deals with a wide range of work including:

  • Commercial and IT contracts: working for national and international clients including small to large providers or receivers of IT- or other- products and services. Covering all relevant IP concerns of the client.
  • Contentious IP- can involve anything from quickly-resolved disputes over the use of IP in domain names, to complex trials in the High Court and Patents County Court.
  • Non-contentious IP: protecting our clients’ portfolio of brand rights throughout the world by ensuring prompt and effective registration and maintenance of IP rights.

The team will often work together on projects that require their various areas of expertise.

What type of work does a trainee do?
Assisting on all of the above to various degrees. For example, in this seat you will gain experience of drafting letters before action, undertakings, and witness statements in addition to lengthy commercial contracts (such as distribution agreements), IP assignments and licences.

It is a great seat for gaining a great deal of hands-on experience and to really be challenged to both think in-depth about the IP issues and consider from a commercial point of view what the client is seeking to protect.

What level of responsibility/hands on experience (i.e. manage your own files etc) does a trainee receive?
The level of responsibility you are given varies depending on the type of matter you are working on.

On smaller more straightforward matters, you will take responsibility for diarising all relevant dates for response etc, drafting correspondence to send to the other side and liaising with the client to provide updates and gain instructions, all under close supervision.

However, I have also assisted the team with larger complex matters, such as a patent trial that is currently continuing in the Patents County Court, or a passing off case before the High Court Birmingham District Registry, both of which have given me experience of drafting witness statements, analysing and compiling evidence, liaising regularly with counsel etc all as part of the wider work the team is doing on the matter.

How much client contact does a trainee get?
As with any seat, the level of client contact the trainee in this seat gets varies depending on the type of matter you are assisting on.

As an example, when assisting on a high-value passing off matter approaching trial I was one of the main points of contact for the client and regularly liaised with them via phone and email for both general updates and more detailed discussions in order to draft witness statements. If your supervisor is the main point of contact then you will be kept involved with all meetings/telephone conferences with the client.

In this seat you will also have the opportunity to attend external events with clients, such as the ITMA (Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys) seminars that the team host.

What has been the highlight for you in this seat?
I really enjoyed both assisting with a trial in the Patents County Court and preparing for a High Court trial in a passing off action. Both had fast-paced timetables and required a high level of attention to detail combined with a good grasp of the issues in dispute; these were fantastic opportunities that I learnt a lot from in a short space of time. However, the entire experience in this seat has been enjoyable and challenging.