Details of the IP attorneys practising in the UK and regulated by IPReg are available on the Registers.
Listings of European qualified attorneys are available on the European Union Intellectual Property Office website and the member databases held by the UK profession’s representative bodies, CIPA (“the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys”) and CITMA (“the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys”) can be found on their websites.
We recommend choosing a regulated advisor (usually called a registered UK patent or trade mark attorney) since they are subject to IPReg’s rules of conduct, which require them to carry professional indemnity insurance and to adopt and follow a formal complaints procedure.
It pays to shop around before deciding which advisor you want to instruct. Look hard at the information on their websites and aim for a face-to–face initial meeting if possible. If you are not comfortable with the individual you meet, try another!
Don’t shy away from talking about money. A good advisor should provide clear up-front advice about likely costs, at least within representative ranges. Bear in mind that there is a legal difference between estimates (which are not a fixed indication as to likely costs) and quotes – which are! Ask for a follow-up note of the matters discussed at your meeting in writing.
Any discussions at such meetings will be treated as confidential; disclosing sensitive commercial information to a prospective advisor in such a context will not invalidate your subsequent claim to patent or design protection. Disclosure in the public domain, by contrast, can do so. Before talking about your new ideas to possible external investors you should ask them to sign a confidentiality agreement; if they don’t agree, walk away.