"STEM: Branching Out” Project Plants New Seeds

Dr Catherine Jewell | August 2017

Last week saw a first at Beck Greener as we held our inaugural Insight Placement, in conjunction with the SThree Foundation and the charity Generating Genius.  This is a new stage in Beck Greener’s “STEM: Branching Out” project, which is aimed at inspiring more students to study STEM subjects at A-level and university, and at raising the profile of the IP professions among students.  Until this placement, the project had focussed on the collective efforts of our STEM Ambassadors in providing careers and STEM support to schools, together with our pro bono work with school-age inventors, and the hosting of “year in industry” placements for IT students.

Two Year 12 students from London schools joined the firm for a week, to experience some of the challenges of being a patent, trade mark or design attorney.  The students were selected by the SThree Foundation as part of their work with Generating Genius. 

After an introductory session during which they were invited to “spot the intellectual property” in everyday objects such as smart phones and coca-cola cans, our students spent the first part of the week getting to grips with the core skills of patent drafting and amendment.  They subsequently moved on to spend time discussing recent trade mark cases and the associated issues, for example issues around the registration of the shape of a kit-kat, before finishing by considering how to assess validity and infringement of patents.  At the end of the week, our students gave a presentation to members of the SThree Foundation, Generating Genius, their fellow placement students, and representatives of the hosting organisations.

Overall, the Insight Placement was a great success, students and staff alike describing it as challenging, engaging and “brilliant!”.

John Hull, a Partner at Beck Greener, ran sessions on validity and infringement of patents and commented: “It was great to see the enthusiasm that our students had for the topics we discussed.  Watching the presentation to Generating Genius, it was clear that they had learned a great deal over the week and had understood the basics not only of how to be a Patent Attorney but also why.”

Watch this space for more news of our STEM: Branching Out project.