Richard Gibbs

Patent Attorney and Office Managing Partner (UK)

"As a Partner at Marks & Clerk I am also responsible for a team of people, and I must work with the other Partners of the Firm to ensure a constant flow of work into the business."

My current role

I have a varied practice and regularly meet with inventors from local academic institutions and businesses to discuss new innovations and prepare patent applications. This is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job and I am privileged to learn first-hand of some of the remarkable innovations taking place around us.

I am most regularly involved in what is known as patent prosecution: assisting my clients to obtain granted patents by guiding them through the various national patent systems and addressing objections raised by patent examiners.

I also work with a large number of foreign clients; this adds to the variety of work I tackle each day. For example, in addition to drafting patent applications and general patent prosecution work, I handle patent assignments, infringement and validity issues, and provide reports to help my clients assess the scope of patents in a particular field. In any given day you may find me drafting a patent application, preparing a response to an examination report and reviewing a draft scientific manuscript for new intellectual property.

As a Partner at Marks & Clerk I am also responsible for a team of people, and I must work with the other Partners of the Firm to ensure a constant flow of work into the business. As such, a crucial part of my job is business development and client care, and as part of this I will often attend and organise events for clients, as well as make trips to visit foreign associates. Since taking up the role of Office Managing Partner I have become more involved with finance, systems and people management. While this has absorbed more of my time, it has delivered some fresh and exciting challenges. However, I remain very much involved with my clients and the major focus of my day job remains on my patent work.

In addition to my patent work, I am actively involved in training our new recruits so that they not only gain the knowledge necessary to pass the exams, but also skills and experience for career progression through the Firm.

Advice for potential recruits.

Competition for training positions is intense and it is important to make your application as attractive and interesting as possible. Most life science graduates approach the profession with a number of higher education qualifications and a Ph.D. is increasingly common. While a Ph.D. is not essential, it is true to say that most trainee patent attorneys will have a strong academic background. Those successful in securing trainee positions will also exhibit a broad interest in science, have exceptional written and oral communication skills, a keen eye for detail and a diligent and conscientious nature.

Make sure you research the profession and speak to as many people as possible in order to understand what it is that we do and the services we offer. Becoming a qualified Patent Attorney requires a great deal of drive and commitment, and interviewers will be looking for those people they perceive best able to deliver this.

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