France: Profession of Patent Attorneys to be Abolished?
With great interest and some kind of increasing astonishment I am watching the Blog of Mr Pierre Breese, a Patent Attorney working in Paris, reporting on discussions in France on a stunning political project: The abolishment of the profession of the Patent Attorneys ("conseils en Propriété Industrielle") by having a merger with the profession of the Lawyers ("avocats").
I think I should not let these developments go unnoticed here.
According to Mr Breese's most recent report, four months after the initiative of the Chancellery opening with determination the site of rapprochement between patent attorneys and lawyers, the situation progresses:
The CNB dismisses the path of interprofessionnalité, with clarity and determination, and declares without ambiguity in favor of a merger, that is an integration of CPI in the profession of lawyers, respecting visibility and offering training reasonable to allow CPI to upgrade the fields of law other than IP.
The CNCPI has shown pragmatism in accepting the merger as a working hypothesis most likely.
The AAPI (Association of IP lawyers) camped firmly on the defense of the status quo coyly presented in the form of an "enhanced cooperation". It does not seem that the influence of members of the AAPI is sufficient to weaken the determination of Mr Dean Iweis and the CNB.
According to Mr Breese, the Chancery maintains the pressure by asking the two professions offer for late February a report outlining the modalities of the merger approved by the representative bodies of the two professions as well as draft regulations for the effective entry into force of a merger. Mr Breese concludes:
"[...] Such a community enhanced IP professionals help to raise the profile of France in the context of any significant progress at the French Presidency of the EU, starting in July 2008 (entry into force of the Community patent? System European courts regarding IP? ...) Let us all be ready for this deadline, and we hope that our representatives will be pragmatic for a rapid conclusion of the merger. [...]"
Anyway, a merger between the professions would be a bold step, surely much enhancing the position of French IP specialists before the Courts of any sort of new pan-European patent litigation system. But what do they think of "training reasonable to allow CPI to upgrade the fields of law other than IP"? Here in Germany it takes five years or so of full-time academic studies plus a further time of traineeship in order to get admitted to the lawyer's profession, let alone two big exams. There are very few individuals in Germany having a law university degree plus a technical university degree plus a patent attorney training in oder to acquire a double-qualification both as a lawyer and as a patent attorney as well. Do the French want to give some kind of a discount in order to facilitate such sort of double qualification?
See also some earlier postings of Mr Breese on this topic here.
The French Patent Attorneys ("CPI") would indeed disappear. Those who currently are "CPI" would automatically become "avocats" (attorney at law). For the others (even for example those who work in the industry and currently have the same qualifications), they should take additional law courses and exams. In the future, to become Patent Attorney in France, it will be necessary, after an engineer degree (or a phD), to take law courses (probably 3 years, instead of 1 now), and finally to take the exam to become "avocat", and of course the EQE... I'm not sure that there will be a lot of candidates !