The Intellectual Property Regulation Board

Annual Report 2016/2017

Message from the Board

My appointment as the Acting Chair commenced in November 2016 although I have been a Board Member for two years.

The LSB conducts Regulatory Standards performance assessments including comments from the wider profession submitted via an anonymous survey and detailed feedback from the representative bodies. In 2016, IPReg demonstrated significant progress and high level of performance, noting that IPReg’s report was amongst the strongest of the front line legal regulators.

In December 2016, the CMA published its report on the Legal Services sector. As one of the seven Legal Service Regulators, IPReg is playing an active role supporting their findings and consequent action plan, whilst also reflecting the specialised B2B nature of our regulated members’ activities.

Inevitably, Brexit will bring new challenges to our profession, as will the continued development of web-based tools to innovate and expedite efficient services, whilst ensuring adequate cyber security protections.

Ann Wright (CEO) was the architect of our IPReg systems and processes, but has chosen this opportunity to stand-down from her role. After 8 years, she feels her work is largely completed and her recommendation is that a new CEO should lead the next phase of IPReg’s development. Following an assessment of the CEO’s current and future workload, the Board have decided to strengthen the executive team, by the appointment of two part-time senior executives; a CEO and a Head of Registration with specific responsibilities for the maintenance of the Register and the associated compliance, assurance, admission and disciplinary reviews. We wish Ann every success in her career and welcome Fran Gillon, formerly of the Legal Services Board, as our new CEO. Further details will be made available shortly.

Steve Gregory, Acting Chair

Chief Executive’s Report 

This last year has been a further cycle of welcomes and goodbyes. Our Chair, Caroline Corby, left after 6 months in the post for personal reasons. I thank Steve Gregory, a serving lay Board member, for agreeing to stand as our Acting Chairman pending the appointment of a permanent Chair.

After 8 years as Chief Executive, I am retiring. Having been at IPReg since November 2009, it is time to pass the baton.

Notwithstanding the challenges of change, significant milestones, particularly in education, have been achieved.

Accreditation Handbook

Accreditation plays a critical role in maintaining and developing professional standards.

The IPReg Accreditation Handbook sets out our approach to accrediting a course, or other provision, of Examination Agencies, for inclusion in the attorney qualification pathway.

It was developed with the Examination Agencies (such as universities and the Patent Examination Board) and seeks to guide them, or others interested in applying for IPReg accreditation, in delivering qualification courses and/or examinations which meet our standards.

It also specifies the credit allocations, Core Subjects and Learning Outcomes which any provider of the Foundation Level Qualification (FLQ) must deliver. It seeks to ensure those seeking to study for the FLQ will have a range of providers, both in terms of format and location of delivery. At the same time, it aims to ensure that, regardless of the qualification pathway/provider chosen, all students experience a similar balance and breadth of subject coverage, and gain the same general transferable skills.

The re-accreditation cycle using these new standards has already commenced.

FD4 (formerly P6) Infringement and Validity Examination – Research Report

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)’s 2015 review of the policies, procedures and processes of the Patent Examination Board (PEB), included a recommendation to the PEB to investigate the consistently poor candidate success rate in the ‘Infringement and Validity’ examination.

IPReg agreed to fund this work and established a Steering Group, including representatives from the PEB, CIPA and the IP Federation, to commission and manage independent research into this matter. After a tender process, the Middlesex University Research Team (Institute for Work Based Learning and the School of Law) was appointed.

The resulting Publication Report FD4(P6) Exam Review was endorsed by the IPReg Board, which judged it to be comprehensive, well researched and an important milestone, for the first time gathering data and evidence about this matter in a collaborative manner and providing a clear path forward through a number of ‘Suggestions’.

The report’s ‘Suggestions’ were commended to both the Patent Examination Board and the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.

My especial thanks to the IPReg Board members and Director of Policy who took forward these important education projects.

Client Care Letters

A client care letter is the first written communication a consumer receives after taking up legal advice. There has been growing recognition that often the language these letters use and the way in which they present the information is creating a barrier to consumer engagement.

Working collaboratively with the other Legal Regulators and the Legal Services Consumer Panel, IPReg helped fund and commission research to review the effectiveness of these letters and to identify the principles for improving them.

Please see the Client Care Letter Note on our website.

Funding diversity initiatives

IPReg, having previously established a fund to support initiatives aimed at promoting our regulatory objective of a diverse profession, made a grant to Generating Genius.

Generating Genius works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are talented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

Two ‘STEM in Action’ Days were funded.

Financials 

We have published a comparison between our 2016 Budget and our actual spend on our Financials page but here is a pictorial guide to the split of costs. The red slice represents the levy to the Legal Services Board and the Legal Ombudsman.

Cost_chart_2016-17

Admissions

The admission for both individuals and entities are shown below.

  2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Applications for Admission to the Patent Register 77 106 89 82 78 96 89
Applications for Admission to the Trade Mark Register 44 44 54 56 72 51 26
Applications by Entities 12 20 32 26 22 24 4

 

Complaints

“First tier” complaints data:

Type of complaint (as declared by entities at 14 July 2017) Number
Failure to follow instructions 17
Failure to advise or poor/wrong advice 15
Failure to keep informed/failure to reply 18
Failure to comply with agreed action/remedy 10
Delay/failure to progress 28
Failure to keep papers safe 1
Cost information deficient/costs excessive 56
Failure to release/file papers 4
Conduct 7
Other 19
Total 175