Patents are a form of IP. But for those who are unfamiliar with the term, what is IP?
Emily Teesdale, a Patent Attorney with WISE member Abel + Imray, talks patents, aerospace, and what she is doing to help increase gender balance and diversity in her field.
IP stands for Intellectual Property and means anything that might be worth something, but where the valuable bit is more of an idea than a physical object. A house is “property”, because there’s something physical there. The design for a house, on the other hand, is intellectual property because, even when it’s drawn out on blueprints, it’s the idea that’s valuable, not the paper it’s printed on.
How did you get into IP?
I have been working in IP for over 15 years now and find it a hugely inspiring field to work in. The route to becoming a patent attorney (what I do) starts with a technical degree (such as Engineering or Science – I have an Aeronautical Engineering degree), followed by training “on the job” in patent law. This training enables you to obtain patents for your clients and help them protect their innovative ideas in the UK, as well as in Europe and other countries worldwide. The combination of the technical nature of the work, the complicated legal framework and commercial aspects, make it a really interesting field to work in. You can find out more about the work I do here.
What does an average work day look like?
I specialise in aerospace and regularly work with things such as landing gear, aircraft seating, fuel systems, aircraft structures, noise reduction, aerial delivery systems and actuators. I am responsible for the management of a high profile aerospace portfolio and work with a variety of clients in the UK, Europe and worldwide. So, an average day may involve chatting to one of my clients about a new idea they have had (to see if we can protect it), liaising with other patent attorneys (for example in the US), to discuss what we might do to help move a patent application to grant, and preparing and filing written arguments at the UK or European Patent Offices.
What challenges exist for women working in your field?
I do not see any particular challenges for women in IP. In fact, I think it is a great field to work in and is generally very inclusive. Of course, the number of women working in IP who specialise in engineering (as opposed to chemistry or who work with trade marks, for example) is lower, which reflects the lower numbers who have taken those degree courses.
Are you involved with any groups that are working to improve gender balance and diversity in your field?
I enjoy being involved with IP Inclusive, a voluntary organisation helping to improve the diversity of the IP community as a whole. I am also part of the Women in IP community of IP Inclusive and we run events (such as informal meet ups, panel events, coffee mornings, film screenings and webinars) to support women working in IP. We are a group of women and men working in different areas of IP, including patent attorneys (like me) and IP lawyers/solicitors. Many of us are partners in our respective firms, leading the way in making our firms, as well as the IP community as a whole, more inclusive, and increasing the numbers of women reaching these top positions.
Where can someone find more information about careers in IP?
Part of the work IP Inclusive does is to improve the information available to those interested in a career in IP. There are many opportunities to use your technical ability even if you do not want to move into scientific research or engineering – becoming a patent attorney is one! If you think that a “Career in Ideas” might be for you (and you should!), please do check out this link which provides much more information about the varied careers available in IP.