Annual Report 2012
Our third year of regulation has seen requirements of our job grow and grow. The earlier expectations of a small remit have developed as the expectations attaching to our task increased in volume and complexity. As we end the year of 2012 we look ahead, and see challenges, not only in the work areas of alternative business structures and IT, but also meeting the demands of regulatory principles which are wider ranging and more penetrative than was on our radar even two years ago.
IP professionals represent, on the whole, a low regulatory risk. That said it was not possible for the Board to make any assumption concerning a vital (albeit small) part of the legal economy. The year saw the launch of a questionnaire designed to provide evidence of any risks there may be. I am grateful to the profession for completing the documentation required by this exercise.
Communication is a vital part of what we do and I have been encouraged by the continuing development of the Approved Regulators Forum which brings together the Presidents of both ITMA and CIPA and members of the Board. Our regular discussions allow for the consideration of strategic issues as well as an opportunity to ‘think things through’ informally.
During the year I have been able to visit a number of firms and attend a meeting of the IP Federation. In addition IPReg has been involved in the presentation of events covering diversity, legal education, professional ethics, non core skills and induction for new members of the profession. The Board plans to continue a programme of meetings with entities and other interested groups.
The lay Board members were delighted to receive an invitation from His Honour Judge Birss QC to visit the Patents County Court. This was highly successful and members have sat as observers in his Court.
Turning to the subject of cost of regulation: the Board is conscious that registrants and entities meet the entire cost of regulation. It is inevitable that as IPReg is expected to meet the new regulatory challenges (‘up our game’ as it has been informally put to me) there will be consequences over resources and this will mean our fees will come under pressure. Elsewhere in this report is a letter of Board member Nicholas Fox, published in the professional journals, which sets out in eloquent terms the landscape on this topic.
As we approach the beginning of a new round of considerable activity, I am mindful of the pressure borne by the professionals here at Outer Temple and wish to place on record my appreciation of their ability, resilience and goodwill.