Trade Mark Attorney qualification route
You need to take a certain set of qualifications to call yourself a trade mark attorney. Just like a barrister or solicitor, trade mark attorney is a title protected by law.
The route to qualification is overseen by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg). Once qualified you can apply to be entered onto the Register of Trade Mark Attorneys, maintained by IPReg, only then can call yourself a trade mark attorney.
And once on the register you can apply to become Chartered, via election as an Ordinary member of CITMA.
Throughout your time in training you will be able to benefit from student membership of CITMA.
Entry into the profession is at undergraduate degree level, often a 2:1 or higher is needed. The alternative route is by having a number of years’ work experience within the profession, for example as a paralegal.
A law degree can be advantageous but is not always essential. However an LLB can exempt you from a small number of the qualification exams.
Becoming a trainee at a firm
The first step for most aspiring Chartered Trade Mark Attorneys (CTMAs) is to be taken on as a trade mark trainee at a legal firm. Your firm will then usually pay for your studies.
Firms come in all shapes and sizes. Many firms operating within the profession specialise in intellectual property work. Plenty of large law firms have sizable IP departments too. You will also find CTMAs working ‘in-house’ for large companies.
Look out for opportunities at careers fairs, graduate job websites, our jobs board or directly via firms with an active IP practice.
You will work at the firm when you are not studying, usually shadowing an experienced CTMA. You will work closely with your mentor to gain the experience you need to qualify.
Year one – Queen Mary University of London or Bournemouth University
In your first year, you will take either the postgraduate certificate course in trade mark law at Queen Mary in London, or intellectual property law at Bournemouth University.
Both courses give you a firm grounding in IP law and practice that you will need in your career as a CTMA.
The Queen Mary course is delivered on Fridays and Saturdays every few weeks between October and April following an intensive two week stint in September.
The Bournemouth University qualification runs from January to June.
Year two – Nottingham Law School
The professional certificate in trade mark practice at Nottingham Law School is the course you will take in your second year. It is specifically designed to develop your knowledge base and professional skills needed to be a CTMA.
The course runs from October to July and is delivered in intensive spells of a few days every four to six weeks.
Two years’ experience
As well as the two qualifications, you need to complete two years’ work experience in trade mark legal practice to qualify as a trade mark attorney.
You would normally do this while you are studying at the firm who has taken you on as a trainee and under the guidance of an experienced mentor.
Several universities offer postgraduate certificate or LLM courses in intellectual property law, which provide candidates with part-exemptions from these courses.
If you are a qualified solicitor or barrister you will be exempt from a number of the modules, depending on the extent of your IP experience.
Once qualified and entered onto the Register of Trade Mark Attorneys you can apply for Ordinary membership of CITMA, to become Chartered.
Since CITMA gained Chartered status in 2016, the term has become synonymous with the quality of service our members provide.
CTMAs have rights to conduct litigation and appear in court on their client’s behalf. There are three levels of litigation rights.
The Intellectual Property Litigation Certificate
This is the basic level of rights all CTMAs hold. It allows them to conduct appeals in the High Court, litigation in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) and appeals of the aforementioned cases in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
It also grants a right of audience in the IPEC and, on appeals from the IPO, in the High Court.
IPReg expects you to take the Certificate in Intellectual Property Basic Litigation Skills at Nottingham Law School within three years of qualifying. This module is now included in the Nottingham Law School Professional Certificate in Trade Mark Practice.
Higher Courts Litigation Certificate
This gives holders the ability to commence and conduct litigation in the High Court. This is gained by completing an Advanced Litigation Skills Course.
Higher Courts Advocacy Certificate
This is equivalent to the combined rights of a barrister and solicitor in IP cases. It gives the holder full rights of audience in IP cases in all English courts.
This is gained by after completing an Advocacy Skills Course.
For more information on qualifying as a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney, please contact the Intellectual Property Regulation Board.