The job of a Patent Attorney is not a piece of cake!

I have been taking a look at the survey made by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) on the so called “IPR-Intensive Industries” (Intellectual property rights intensive industries: contribution to economic performance and employment in the European Union; These are companies having an above-average use of IPR (intellectual property rights) per employee, could it be patents, trademarks, geographical indications of origin, and/or others. Since most industries are related to some extent to IP rights, the study – as explicitly expressed – understates the real contribution of IP rights to the European economy.  A detailed explanation on how the data from all over Europe were obtained and analyzed can be found through the link above.


The purpose of the study (September 2013) was to find out how much these industries contribute to the European Union economy and employment. And the big numbers are as follow:  56 million out of 218 million people in the EU, are employed in IPR-intensive industries. This is 26% of the total employment. If the number of persons working in indirect jobs generated by the IPR-intensive industries is taken into account, the above figure increases to about 76 million people. Not bad at all!. The study also concludes that 38.6 % of the GDS (Gross Domestic Product) in the EU comes from IPR-intensive industries. If we specifically refer to patents, the number represents 10% of employment in the EU.

A short paragraph about Spain: the IPR-Intensive Industries according to the survey generates only 10% of the employment, and this result is achieved considering that we are in the top five positions for trademarks and designs, but only in eleventh position in patents. We can reach our own conclusions

It also appears, according to the study made by the two mentioned organisms, that people working in IPR-intensive industries receive higher wages than in the rest of the economy. More specifically, and I quote: “The average weekly wage in IPR‑intensive industries is € 715, compared with € 507 in non‑IPR‑intensive industries – a difference of 41%. This “wage premium” is 31% in design, intensive industries, 42% in trade mark, ‑intensive industries, 46% in GI ‑intensive industries, 64% in patent intensive industries and 69% in copyright-intensive industries” (page 9 of the document).

We, patent attorneys, can congratulate ourselves as part of said IPR-intensive industries. But nothing is for free!. If you have already had the time to take a look at the last issue of the Official Journal of the European Patent Office (October 2013), you could have read, for example, several questions addressed to the Enlarged Board of Appeal in relation to G1/13: what happens when a company files an opposition and before the EPO issues a decision to maintain the patent as amended, the company disappears – is dissolved – , but is later restored by a national law to the register of companies? Should the EPO accept the continuation of the opposition proceedings by the restored company?, What happens if further, even an appeal against the maintenance of the amended patent is filed in the name of said company, and the restoration of the company took place after filing the appeal?. Under certain circumstances, where even the European Patent Office has not a clear response yet, what is to be expected from a European Patent Attorney providing advice to his/her client?.

And whereas we are waiting for the response to dozens of similar questions and dozens of others different from those in the preceding paragraph, we also have to explain to our clients why we cannot guarantee that their patents will be granted, why we cannot further accelerate the granting of their patents, or why we need ten more hours to complete the analysis of documents recently added to a case. Rather a tough work than a piece of cake!

Seni Cueto