A Day in the Life of a Patent Administrator

By Ruth Collins, Patent Administration Manager

In this new world of hybrid working my day might start with a walk into the office or a slightly shorter walk to my spare room, but both mornings will involve tea.

When I turn on my computer, our database will bring up my to-do list for the day which includes any external deadlines that have been set by Patent Offices for the cases that I manage. At the start of the day, I check these lists to make sure that I am aware of what I, or the attorneys that I work with, must complete that day. It might be that a response to an examination report is due at the EPO on a case that day and I need to work with the attorney to make sure it is filed. Today I note that we have a final filing deadline due in a couple of days, but it is in Hong Kong, so I have to bear in mind the time difference and make sure we send instructions in time. We have not yet had instructions from the client, so I will send them a reminder.

Once I have checked if there is anything that must be completed today, I will turn to my emails. We know that our client’s value our responsiveness and as a Patent Administrator part of my role is to manage all the emails that come into myself and the attorneys that I work with, to ensure that they are appropriately responded to and actioned. This is when the to-do list can change – you can never be sure what is going to come in.

We receive emails from clients, national agents, Patent Offices and other third parties. I go through all of these and respond directly to those that I can. For those that require an attorney response, I will update the attorney’s task list to ensure they respond and sometimes prepare the beginnings of a response for the attorney to add technical comments. Some of the emails from national agents might be sending us a new examination report and in these cases I will work with our Records department to ensure that our database is correctly updated with the deadlines.

This morning involved several emails from national agents reporting publication and a new examination report, several emails from clients and inventors on drafts that the attorney had sent them, and several emails from a client instructing us to proceed with filing responses at the EPO. I have also received a request to file an assignment at the UK IPO urgently, so that will need to be added to today’s to-do list.

Once I have worked through the morning’s emails, responding and updating our systems, I will start working through my to-do list. Our database allows me to manage a list of tasks that come up daily. These might involve preparing reports to clients, preparing application forms for the attorney to file, reminding an attorney about actions they need to take or preparing invoices for clients. First, I am going to deal with the instructions we received earlier and prepare the forms to record the assignment at the UKIPO. Once I have checked that all is in order and prepared the relevant forms, I will send these to the attorney for them to check.

While working through my to-do list, I will keep monitoring my inbox to handle any correspondence that comes in or any requests from attorneys. I note that I have now received instructions to proceed with the filing in Hong Kong, so I acknowledge receipt of that email and instruct the national attorneys.

The afternoon will continue with me working through my to-do list and dealing with email correspondence that comes in. I will also receive the documents that have been sent to us from the EPO and UK IPO relating to cases that I manage. Handling these documents will involve ensuring that our Records team have updated our systems correctly and then making sure there is a task on my to-do list at an appropriate time in the future to report to the client.

Beyond the day-to-day case management more experienced or Senior Patent Administrators will also be involved in training our Trainee Patent Administrators and mentoring them as they study the Introductory Patent Administrators Course (IPPC) and take the examination to qualify.

As a Patent Administration Manager my afternoon might also include a meeting with other managers to discuss a process that needs to be reviewed in response to a change in the rules at the Patent Office, or a meeting with our IT department to work on a project to improve our use of technology in a particular process.

As you can see, the role of Patent Administrators at HLK is to work closely with the attorneys to manage their caseload, ensuring that deadlines are being met and that our clients are receiving all the information they need to be able to make decisions in respect to their IP portfolio.