The new president of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) has highlighted the challenges of the legal profession’s new regulatory structure as a key challenge facing her as she takes up office.
Maggie Ramage, who will hold the post for two years, said her principal aim “is to raise the standards and awareness of trade mark practice throughout the legal profession and consolidate the position of the Institute”.
ITMA is one of the eight approved regulators under the Legal Services Act and Ms Ramage continued: “A key feature of this is how we grapple with the challenges as well as the opportunities facing the profession of trade mark attorneys in the first year of the separation of our representational and regulatory responsibilities. The UK is pioneering in its approach to regulation of the trade mark attorney profession and this will instil the UK as an attractive option for non EU countries.
“I wish to ensure there is a smooth transition of our regulatory functions to the new IP Regulatory Board (IPReg) without incurring undue burdens on the professions, either by costs, which in turn ensure the consumer still gets value for money, or by administrative requirements, which frees up the professionals to work in the furtherance of their clients’ interests.”
In what may become a model for the smaller legal regulators, ITMA and its fellow intellectual property body, the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents, have combined their regulatory functions into a single regulator.
Ms Ramage, a partner at Surrey firm Alexander Ramage Associates, said ITMA is also overhauling its education and training scheme, with a new way of qualifying as a trade mark attorney and introducing a mixture of both legal knowledge and practical application as part of the curriculum, with courses delivered by Nottingham Law School and Queen Mary University, London. “This is just the start,” she said. “Over the next two years I will make sure that all new entrants to the profession have access to top-quality courses as well as a supporting programme of seminars and lectures for all of our members enabling them to meet stringent CPD requirements for trade mark attorneys and litigators.”
ITMA has approximately 500 practising members; it also extends associate membership to professionals in related fields of law and overseas membership to foreign trade mark attorneys, taking its total membership to about 1600 members, primarily located in the UK and Europe, but also in more than 50 other countries.