Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Grandfather Patent Attorneys Revisited

The French government has just published a decree indicatining how people with a minimum of 8 years experience in Intellectual Property can apply to become registered industrial property attorneys with the French Patent and Trademark Office. The full text can be found here

The aim of the decree is twofold :

- satisfy the present government's requirement to open up the profession and do away with a rather antiquated examination board, discretionary examination papers and marking system ;

- satisfy the National Guild of Industrial Patent Attorneys, who are currently in the throes of a race to try and get as many candidates qualified as possible before we all become Avocats (see my earlier post on that hot topic), and the conditions for entry become noticeably harder, at least for engineers or candidates with a scientific background who would normally have become patent attorneys.

I have summarised the main points of the decree below :

1) The jury referred to in Article R. 421-6 of the Intellectual Property Code (CPI) will meet at least twice a year (Ed - this is a vast improvement on the current examination scheme of 2 yearly examination sessions, alternating between trademarks and patents)

2) The request for entry on the list of qualified persons must be sent to the Director of the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI aka French PTO) by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

The request must include :

1° A signed and dated request by the candidate indicating the speciality(ies) for which the candidate requires registration, i.e "brevets d'invention" (patents) and/or "marques ou dessins et modèles" (trademarks or industrial designs).

2° A photocopy of some form of formal personal identification (note that in France, driver's licences do not generally constitute valid personal ID, so you have to show a valid resident's card or a passport).

3° A photocopy of one of the diplomas mentioned at 1° or 2° of Article R. 421-1 CPI. These include the following : a higher education degree or diploma from a University or equivalent institution in law, science or technology, optionally obtained through a recognised further professional training program.

4° A diploma from the Centre d'études internationales de la propriété industrielle (CEIPI) at the University of Strasbourg, or an equivalent title obtained through a recognised further professional training program. (Ed - the conditions of recognition by the French state of such training programs are laid down elsewhere by law).

5° A signed declaration of professional experience attesting to the exactitude of qualifying professional activity (i.e. work in Intellectual Property), issued by the employer or tutor under whose responsability the candidate has acquired the experience. The declaration must include a list of responsabilities and activities engaged in by the candidate during his/her professional experience and their duration ; the declaration can include details relating to the prosecution and filing of industrial property titles, or their defense and litigation.
The candidate is allowed to include any other form of evidence that it considers relevant to its request in relation to justifying its professional experience in IP. If the 8 year period of experience has been acquired under the responsability of several different persons, each such person must provide a corresponding declaration.

6° The request must be accompanied by evidence of payment of the required fee which will be decided by the French PTO's administrative council.
The jury will examine all requests that reach the Director of the French PTO at the latest one month before the date at which a meeting of the jury is planned.
The jury will check the candidate's understanding, at an oral interview, of the ethical rules of conduct of the profession, and can, if it deems necessary, hear the candidate on the nature and reality of its professional experience (Ed - just in case you manage to falsify all of the other papers required !!!! - doh !!!!).

Well, I still don't know who is going to sit on the jury, my most recent understanding was that there might at least be one or two registered IP attorneys, the rest being members of the judiciary, the French PTO, and the Bar Association.

One would assume that the French PTO is still going to run a check for "morality", as they called it, i.e. check to see whether the candidate had a past criminal record or not, and yes that check extends to asking the police force in foreign countries about the shady (or not-so shady) past of non-French candidates.

Of course, if you are a foreigner, have all the required experience and documentation, then it should be relatively easy to get on the list. From there, its only a small step to becoming an "Avocat", just wait for us to merge with them early next year, whey hey !!!!!!

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