• Role: Trainee Patent Attorney
  • Location: London
  • University: Birmingham
  • Degree: Theoretical physics

Jonathan Pennell

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Upon completion of my third year of a four year degree in theoretical physics, I turned my attention to the following year and planning for life after university. I knew I did not want to pursue a graduate position in finance or engineering and, although interested in science and technology generally, could not isolate one particular area of interest that I would be happy to commit another three or four years to in pursuit of a PhD.

I talked with an engineer and businessman that I knew to find out about his experience of working with a patent attorney. He told me that he liked the clear and understandable way the patent attorney would explain processes and strategies relating to his patent portfolio.

My curiosity captured, I gained a few days of work experience with a patent attorney who kindly put aside his time to explain what is expected of prospective entrants to the profession. Technical knowledge (i.e. a scientific degree) in order to understand inventions in different technological areas and an ability to convey complex ideas in a clear and concise manner are crucial for all applicants. A detailed and practical knowledge of the law should be acquired throughout training. Working with a wide range of technology means that no two days are the same!

As a trainee, I enjoy the challenge of organising my own time and ensuring I am proactively engaging in prioritisation of my own workload. The clients range from large international corporations to single lone inventors and the work is extremely varied as a result. I am involved in the patent process from the very beginning by meeting with inventors and drafting applications to protect their inventions. I also provide opinions to clients on patentability, validity and infringement, and present arguments to patent examiners in support of a client’s invention.

I particularly like that Venner Shipley affords its trainees a vast amount of supervision and direct contact with one or more supervisors (typically Partners/Senior Associates). This helps the trainee to learn quickly and get a taste of different working practices, before going on to shape their own working practices for the future.

Venner Shipley also provides additional training through tutorials relating to the professional exams required and internal seminars relating to practical issues. Trainees are encouraged to undertake external courses, such as the CIPA Informals lecture series in the first year and a course at Queen Mary University which provides exemption from the foundation exams.

Venner Shipley is a great place to work. The firm is full of hardworking and well-rounded people who are eager to have a good time as soon as the work is done. There are a number of social events throughout the year, as well as many opportunities for sporting activities and shared celebrations.

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