Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the process whereby a practising IP attorney takes steps to keep up-to-date with developments in their practice area, ensuring that they can deliver appropriate advice and high level services to their client. Attorneys can help meet their CPD requirements by attending appropriate IP related educational events organised by professional bodies such as CIPA, CITMA, Law Society or the Bar Council which are already recognised for CPD purposes.
In addition, sharing knowledge at suitable in-house educational meetings of IP attorneys in private and industrial practice can also be an efficient and established way of meeting the CPD requirements. In this context, “in-house” also includes regular IP educational events involving small groups of sole practitioner attorneys meeting together.
Such in-house meetings should typically involve one or more of the following objectives and learning outcomes.
- Fostering awareness of recent case law in a relevant IP field (patents, trade marks, copyright, designs or associated areas e.g. confidential information, licensing, competition law).
- Updating knowledge of practice changes and new procedures promulgated by the UK IPO, EPO, OHIM, WIPO and foreign IP offices.
- Enabling participants to keep abreast of new legislation (primary and secondary) in the IP field and contingent areas in the UK and other major jurisdictions.
- Sharing knowledge of best practice in day to day conduct/handling of individual IP cases, e.g. tips for overcoming official objections, opposition tactics, drafting and amendment points, etc.
- Sharing knowledge of the regulatory obligations of attorneys under the IPReg Code.
- Sharing knowledge of best practice in general practice management especially dealing with clients (the care and conduct of a client account).
- Sharing knowledge of technical developments in a specialist field relevant to the attorney’s practice.
- Assisting participants at meetings to share this knowledge with other members of the team/trainees/assistants within the grouping, if not present at meeting.
Acceptability of in-house educational meetings for CPD purposes
IPReg has determined that in-house educational meetings which satisfy these criteria will automatically be considered to be suitable for CPD purposes and in that respect be treated in the same way as CIPA and CITMA CPD events and IP related CPD events organised by other professional bodies.
A meeting may be partly educational and partly general, for example about workloads within the relevant group; in this case only part of the meeting will “count”. It will be for the person leading the meeting to determine the extent to which each meeting will count.
However, individuals and organisations must be prepared to substantiate the matters listed above e.g. attendance, content of meeting and relevant criteria, if required to do so by IPReg as part of its monitoring of CPD responses from individual attorneys.
Format, content and conduct of in-house educational meetings for CPD purposes
Inevitably “in-house” educational meetings will vary enormously across private and corporate practice and so a single model cannot satisfy every situation. However, it is recommended that the following aspects should normally be included.
Whenever possible a formal agenda or written summary of the topics to be covered should be issued in advance. This may usefully include more detailed listings of the case law/official materials/other sources which are to reviewed.
It is suggested that an individual is designated as the compiler for the materials to be discussed. They will have responsibility for reviewing relevant outside knowledge sources (IP websites, case law reports and alerts received from external advisers) and collating these materials following a defined structure, e.g. an indexed bundle.
Frequency and duration
While appreciating that such meetings have to fit around other work commitments, it is suggested that these should be held on a regular basis, for example bi-monthly or, as a minimum, quarterly. The suggested duration should be no more than 2 hours.
Individuals attending the meeting should be required to comment verbally on at least some of the materials e.g. provide a critique of a recent case or a brief summary of a practice change and how it will affect future case handling.
It is important that a designated individual should keep a record of the dates of meetings, participants and copies of the agendas/listings of topics discussed so that these can be produced if requested by IPReg as part of the monitoring process of CPD compliance. Also, individual attorneys can then refer to these records when maintaining their own personal CPD records.