It takes me up to half an hour to drive to the office. Alicante isn't
a bad town for traffic but the public transport links aren't great here
so I come by car. I've been in Alicante for 11 years now with OHIM
after passing through Brussels where I worked in the Council
I share an office with someone who usually works at home under the
teleworking scheme and comes into the office when they have meetings.
It's quiet and quite pleasant – I have a sea view. There's building work
going on for a new OHIM building at the moment. When that's built,
everyone will get their own office with glass partitions.
I work a lot on the computer since all the files are on the system. I
might print off complex cases and I have a copy of the guidelines but
the rest is on the computer system although there are usually some files
around in the office for trade mark and design examinations.
I prefer to start a new application each morning but for more complex
cases I might need to consult with our legal advisers so it may not be
possible to close the file on the same day. We're testing a system of
case allocation at the moment: I might be allocated files by key users
and I may also request files from the system. I have a certain profile
based on my language capabilities and classification expertise. The
classification system for each new application is very quick. It follows
the NICE classification and the system might even recognise it
automatically, although it can be more complicated for some
Once the mark is classified I consider the application on absolute
grounds under article 7. Depending on the goods and services for which
the application is made and the examiners' expertise it can take one to
two hours. If the mark is going to be objected to, it may take two and a
half hours. If the classification, formalities and absolute grounds are
all very straightforward it can take five to 10 minutes.
I consult colleagues on issues of absolute grounds quite often,
particularly when I am examining marks in different languages. We have
native speakers in the office so I will get in touch with one of them
either by email or else I will go and see them. We have a list of
language checkers in the office: I am on the list for Portuguese. I am
constantly switching languages: I also speak English, French, Spanish
and some Italian and sometimes I change language without being aware I'm
On complex questions I often consult senior colleagues, and we have a
team of legal advisers as well. They are available for consultations
each morning so we just go and see them if we have any questions.
The majority of people stay here for lunch unless they have something
they need to do downtown. The canteen has a very nice tariff. People
usually meet up with colleagues of a similar age who they have known for
a long time. But sometimes I use lunch as an opportunity to discuss a
new issue with a particular colleague.
It's very sociable. I usually have lunch with one group of people and
coffee with another. Working in a multinational office is a very
interesting experience. It's rewarding but it also requires certain
flexibilities because we need to adapt to different ways of seeing and
understanding things. You need to be open minded. But I am very positive
about it. There is a tendency for people to gather in national groups
in the canteen but it doesn't happen all the time.
We have an examiners meeting one morning each week. They're very
fruitful because we always get conclusions. They are led by a legal
adviser and often cover absolute grounds. They give us time to discuss
the problem. We also have a service meeting one morning each week. These
cover production issues; the problems people might have and anything
that touches on the functioning of the service and how it can be
improved. Issues to do with the computer system we use, for example.
I leave at about 6pm, depending on the marks that I've been
examining. The Office offers flexitime. We need to work seven and a half
hours each day and be in the office between 9.30 and 1 and 3 to 4.30.
OHIM has a lot of social clubs and most people use them a lot when they
first join but then they settle into Alicante life and start to develop
their own social infrastructure.
This interview is part of a series on ManagingIP.com looking at
typical days for examiners, judges, clerks and others around the world
of intellectual property. Visit www.managingip.com to read more.