IPReg letter to all registrants and entities

11 December 2014

On 10 December 2014, IPReg sent a letter to all registrants and entities. The text of the letter is set out below. At the bottom of this page is a statement from CIPA and ITMA.

Dear Registrant,

In 2010 the profession took on board new regulatory requirements and did so with a positive and constructive outlook. Your professionalism has helped create a regulatory regime which is held in high regard.

Five years on and we now approach a further set of developments: I am delighted to confirm that on 1 January IPReg will become the licencing authority for Alternative Business Structures. Both Institutes gave immense practical support for this development, which ensured that firms, whatever their management or ownership model, could have the same opportunities to develop their practises whilst remaining regulated by IPReg.  

Running in parallel with the ABS application, the Legal Services Board have continued to expect further developments and improvements to IPReg’s regulatory role and capacity, and by agreement those changes (which will affect all fans) were to be implemented when the ABS provisions became live.  

Our Authorisations Officer has already started working with our ‘ABS like’ firms towards transition (some thirty or so have already been contacted) and the level of constructive engagement has been excellent. We remain ready to work with you to make transition as streamline as possible.  

My July letter touched on how our Assurance Officer will significantly enhance our capacity to support you in meeting the new regulations and the expectations of LSB as we enter a new phase. I know that some issues (for example the handling of client money) has presented some firm with challenges. Together with the Institutes we have sought to smooth some of these problems.  

We will continue our communications through the IPReg website and webinars.  

The go live date is 1 January, but I fully understand the practical problems. The team here is ready to assist all those firms who encounter difficulty.  

My message is; keep in touch as communication is the key. For those firms who continue the dialogue I am sure we can assist. This is the message which my Board member, Jonathan Clegg, has also been giving when chairing our webinar series.  

I am confident that together we can meet the new challenges, we have done so before and we can do so again.  

With all best wishes  

Michael Heap, Chairman  

Statement from CIPA and ITMA

ITMA, in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, takes the position that the overwhelming majority of work undertaken by UK Patent Attorneys and UK Trade Mark Attorneys in private practice is the filing and prosecution of Patent, Trade Mark and Design applications in the UK, Europe and overseas, together with associated legal advice and contentious matters such as opposition and litigation. Where ‘transactional’ work (i.e. transferring intellectual property rights from party A to party B) is carried out, it is most often in co-operation with a solicitor as part of a wider transaction, where the IP is merely a part of an overall package. It is extremely rare, if it happens at all, for a Patent or Trade Mark Attorney to hold client money in escrow for completion of a transaction. In practice, transactional work makes up a very small proportion of the overall work of a Patent and Trade Mark Attorney.  

One of the potential problems referred to in Mr Heap’s letter to registered patent and trade mark attorneys is the application of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and the consequential difficulties in opening up client accounts which cannot be considered to be the cash assets of a firm owing to the fact that patent and trade mark attorneys are not professionals identified in Schedule 3 of the Regulations.  CIPA and ITMA have written to IPReg stating that our members must not be placed in a position where compliance with a regulatory requirement under its Rules of Conduct is subject to interpretation by the banking industry. Both Institutes have asked for a more pragmatic timetable to be adopted in the introduction of the new Rules of Conduct to allow this matter to be properly addressed.

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