CITMA Paralegal Course

The CITMA Paralegal Course is the official qualification for trade mark paralegals and support staff with suitable experience.

By testing knowledge of trade mark formalities and official procedures the course equips trade mark paralegals with, and acknowledges, an understanding of practices within the profession.

The course, taken by around 100 people in 2018, covers the roles many trade mark paralegals perform, and will take some out of their comfort zone to help broaden their knowledge base. It ensures those who take the qualification know why they do a job and not just how.

Lectures are delivered by experienced trade mark paralegals and attorneys. Topics covered include how to register a trade mark, searches, renewals and maintenance, changes of ownership, oppositions and cancellations. The course also touches on registered designs and domain names. 

We asked leading IP recruiter Dawn Ellmore about the importance of the course, she said:

“The CITMA Paralegal course gives you the opportunity to gain a qualification that is both recognised by employers and can help you move up the career ladder.

“Rebranding the course as CITMA Paralegal helps to acknowledge the shift in responsibilities of trade mark administrators over the past few years and gives greater status to those providing crucial support to Chartered Trade Mark Attorneys."

The course covers the legal aspects relevant to a paralegal's role, as well as their often crucial tasks in handling formalities and the administration of trade mark portfolios.

On completion of the lectures, an exam is taken on the course content. There is a multiple-choice section and a written answer section, both are compulsory. The pass mark in 2018 was 65%.

If you fail, a place on the following year's course cannot be guaranteed as priority is given to those who have not previously taken the course. Unsuccessful candidates can however receive copies of the course content for a fee and sit the exam the following year - they are not permitted to attend lectures. Only one re-sit can be taken, so if a candidate fails again they must re-apply for the course.

All successful candidates will be eligible to apply for CITMA Paralegal membership.

Candidates who have passed the course and who intend to further their career by sitting the trade mark attorney exams would be more suited to student membership of CITMA.

It is strongly recommended that course attendees have a minimum of 18 months' experience in trade mark administration and formalities before they take this course.

Frequently asked questions:

I’m not sure I meet the eligibility criteria, can I still take the course?

We do not actively discourage anyone from taking the course, nor do we police the requirement that students on the CITMA Paralegal Course have 18 months’ experience. 

This is our recommendation as we have found that those with less experience do not have the broad knowledge needed. 

This said, with more experience under your belt, you are likely to see the day-to-day relevance of more topics and benefit more from getting to know peers in the profession.

Students relatively fresh out of university may not find the content too heavy, whereas if you are juggling work and home life you may find the going tougher. Students from specialist peripheral fields such as domain names or renewals have also taken the course with success.

If you are not dealing with certain elements on a daily basis it can be difficult to apply your experience and learn and remember what is required to pass.

Is there a reading list for the course?

The course is self-contained and all handouts and presentations are sufficient for taking the course. 

Although no other reading material is required, we would recommend you make yourself familiar with the EUIPO, UK IPO and WIPO websites as these will be useful in a career as a trade mark paralegal.

What subjects are covered by the CITMA Paralegal Course? Is there a syllabus?

There is a syllabus that we keep confidential. The subjects currently covered by the course are:

  • Searching and clearance, including classification
  • Filing and prosecution: UK, EUTM, Madrid, USA, China and overseas
  • Renewals and maintenance
  • Notarisation and legalisation
  • Recording title updates
  • Replacement
  • Security interests
  • Licensing
  • Opposition, revocation, invalidation and litigation
  • Designs: UK, RCD, Hague and overseas
  • Copyright
  • Domain names

What is the format of the exam?

The exam consists of two sections. Section A contains short-answer questions (approximately 12) that require short answers, lists or clear notes. Section B has 40 multiple-choice questions where you should choose the most correct answer (from four options).

Does the course involve coursework?

The course does not have any coursework. Some handouts may contain exercises for the you to undertake in your free time but they are not meant to be particularly time consuming.

What is the pass mark?

Currently, the pass mark is 65%.

What happens when I pass?

Successful students are eligible for CITMA Paralegal membership of the CITMA.

This is free for the remainder of the calendar year. Membership requires sponsorship from a corporate member, but course presenters will typically be willing to provide sponsorship.

If possible, we will endeavour to run a ceremony for those that have passed the course shortly after the marks are awarded.

Membership as a CITMA Paralegal entitles you to call yourself a “CITMA Paralegal” and requires you to undertake CPD (continuing professional development) each year.

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We run a number of events during the year to help you learn and develop while you earn the required CPD hours.

Are there many people that complete the CITMA Paralegal course that then go onto become Chartered Trade Mark Attorneys?

It is not designed to be a stepping stone course but, yes, a number of students from the course have gone on to qualify as Chartered Trade Mark Attorneys.