International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022: Beth Campbell
Beth Campbell is an associate based in the Munich office. She has a master’s degree in Natural Sciences (Chemistry) and spent a year working as a research student on the structural characterisation of DNA translesion polymerases, at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich. After four years of working in the patent profession, in 2021 Beth became a fully qualified UK and European patent attorney.
As a patent attorney, what academic and professional qualifications have you needed to qualify?
To begin working as a trainee patent attorney in the field of Chemistry, I needed to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in a related science. I have a Master’s degree in Natural Sciences with Chemistry as my specialism.
To qualify as a UK patent attorney, I needed to sit and pass the five foundation and four final examinations. To qualify as a European patent attorney, I needed at least three years of experience working as a trainee European patent attorney and to sit and pass the four final European Qualifying Examinations (EQEs).
Had you always planned a career in IP or did you consider alternative ways of using your scientific degree?
I originally considered a degree in academia. After university, I moved to Munich to start a research project at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry.
I also considered working as a Chemistry teacher for 11–18-year-olds in the UK. I completed a teaching degree and worked for two years as a Chemistry teacher in secondary schools before starting work at Forresters.
What attracted you to a career as a patent attorney?
I first heard about patents and IP when working as a research student, where I attended a workshop on the importance of IP.
I was attracted to a career as a patent attorney because it would allow me to use my scientific knowledge and my language skills, and to develop my analytical reasoning skills. It also seemed like a really interesting and varied job – getting to work with a variety of clients on different technologies and completing different types of work (e.g. prosecuting patents, drafting patents, advising clients on infringement, etc.).
Describe your typical working day
On a typical day, I read emails, check due dates and complete shorter pieces of work first thing in the morning (for example, handling validations, responding to quick queries from clients). Usually, I will divide the rest of the day between working on approximately one to two longer pieces of work (for example, responding to examination reports, preparing written submissions for oral proceedings). The majority of my work involves handling prosecution, oppositions and appeals before the European Patent Office (EPO), but I do handle the global portfolio for some of my clients and get to prepare responses for filing in China, South Korea, Japan and Russia relatively often. I also do some design work for some of my clients.
As most of my clients are based in the USA, calls with them usually take place in the afternoon.
Have you ever experienced an interesting or unexpected outcome when working with a client?
One thing I could think of for “unexpected” is when I had only been working for Forresters for about a year and a more experienced attorney came to Munich for opposition oral proceedings. The more experienced attorney asked me for some Chemistry advice related to the opposition, and later told me that they had won the opposition based on the Chemistry advice I gave them.