Friday, June 06, 2008

Stairway to Heaven aka "VAP"

Today's title isn't some form of subtle advertisement for a 70's rockband song or some hallucinogenic reverie (although...), but a reference to the recently released communiqué by the French PTO (, about the organisation of the upcoming session for "validation des acquis professionnels" and consequent registration as a person qualified to practice IP.

Nothing to do with vapour or ephemerism whatsoever, except that it remains to be seen whether the legislative text behind this organisation will still be applicable once we have all become Avocats (that word just seems to creep in everywhere, doesn't it ?).

Just a quick recap : the French IP profession consists of about 800 registered specialists in private practice. This number is considered by the government authorities to be largely insufficient (and I tend to agree). In an attempt to overcome the stagnation that has beset our profession over the past 25 years, the government has thus decided to organise, in line with national policies in other sectors in France on training and recognition of professional experience, a means of becoming a registered IP practitioner without having to sit those awful and extremely arbitrary qualifying examinations that all of us middle-agies had to go through. With the merger with the Bar looming, and the consequence of increasingly difficult and lengthy examination spans to be introduced, there has been pressure put on the PTO to organise a professional experience recognition or VAP-session to swell the ranks of current practising membership as much as possible. On a side note, the PTO has also just announced the organisation of the qualifying examinations sessions as well, for those who are of a masochistic inclination.

I'm not going to translate the communiqué for would-be readers, because if you want to have any hope of being accepted, you need to have at least some inkling of French, so it'll be a good test for you. Suffice it to say that this session is open to all and sundry having worked in IP for at least 8 years, and meeting the other formal requirements (higher education degree in law or a science based subject), plus an equivalent diploma or education to that dispensed by the CEIPI in Strasbourg for IP studies.

The deadline for applying is September 8th, 2008 (midnight at the latest), as witnessed by the date postmark on your registered letter of application (with acknowledgement of receipt).

The oral interviews are to be held on October 20th, 2008. These interviews serve to ascertain the truth of the declarations relating to the acquired professional experience, and the depth of knowledge of the candidate with regard to our code of professional ethics. The jury will also have the possibility to question the candidates on their professional experience. Hmm, I wonder who's going to be chosen to do jury service, will it be a voluntary thing, or will we all have to take it in turns to do our bit for the promotion of our dying breed ? Lie back and think of France I can imagine the scene now : me thinking, mmm, yes, that gorgeous deep ruby red Cahors would go down really well just now - "I'm sorry, Mademoiselle, what was that you were saying about your patent drafting experience..." as my numbed brain is brought back to reality - now what was I saying about Stairways to Heaven and hallucinogenic experiences...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Too many cooks...

In the continuing saga of "Who wants to be an Avocat ?" (shouldn't that be a "millionaire" ? - I'll take both, thanks), a flurry of activity has recently occurred, none of which I've found particularly surprising, but hey, that's the cynic in me once again.

I was informed yesterday, by the Anti-Merger brigade, followed closely but belatedly (1-0 to the antis, sorry chaps) by the CNCPI bureau, that someone, somewhere, in government circles attempted to hang an amendment relating to the merger, to the end of a completely unrelated piece of legislative text relating to community harmonisation of French company law going through the Senate - these kind of tactics are fairly representative of the legislative process in France - in which, "the Government would have been authorised to issue, by means of ordinance, the necessary arrangements for the merger of the professions of Avocat and CPI..."

Shock horror !!! Errmm, no, not really, just the usual parliamentary jostling, abuse of influence, and other rather shady and undemocratic tactics that we see every day. Hmm, and the French poke fun at Italy and its successive governments - people in glass houses once again...

Needless to say, had this amendment been voted, then the government's plan was to have everything settled within 9 months or so, with or without the cooperation of the interested parties. These underhand tactics however, were apparently not to the liking of the French Economics Minister, Mme Lagarde, and a few other senators, who managed to have the amendment withdrawn before debate on the legislation commenced.

It remains to be seen who or what was responsible for proposing this amendment (if we ever find out at all, transparency of the workings of parliament not being particularly well defined).

The CNCPI Bureau offered a rather dull, and watered down "letter of information", including the text of the proposed amendment, if only to serve as counter propaganda against the Antis, in an attempt (rather feeble, IMHO) to show that it was mindful of our (the CPIs) desiderata whilst at the same time congratulating the government on having taken such an initiative.

Politics, politics. Who'd have thought that a simple thing like dealing with 790 professionals would cause so much political intrigue...

All of this does go to show that, ultimately, the fate of our profession is in the hands of those who have sufficient influence in higher political circles to add such amendments, or have them added to pending legislation by person's sympathetic to the requestee's cause. However, now that there are clearly other cooks involved in making the broth than just the two main chefs, the soup might just get burnt.

Speaking of which, time for lunch...