“Unmasking IP Practice” was the original name of an online webinar hosted by the Community of Intellectual Property Lovers (IPLovers). The webinar aims to provide some crucial information and practical experiences related to practicing intellectual property, suitable for students or anyone who wants to take a step in this field. For that reason, students can easily sign up for the webinar at no cost.
To accomplish that goal, IPLovers has invited experts who are practicing in numerous countries such as Attorney Wei Wu – a former patent in the Chinese Patent Office and US IP Attorney of Grable Martin Fulton, Attorney Ngan Tran – a trademark expert in Australia, and Newzealand, Attorney Cindy Katerin Sotomayor Mallqui – a legal advisor for a fashion business in Peru. On behalf of IPLovers, Ms. Tram Nguyen is a moderator, suggesting content for the guests to share their practical experiences.
The guests demonstrate an impressive academic background, regardless of whether they practice as lawyers or legal advisors. All guests have earned a master of law (LLM) from a country with a long history of jurisprudence, as well as a practicing certificate in intellectual property. During the seminar, the importance of learning and upgrading knowledge while in practice was also emphasized.
In general, the guests all demonstrated great perseverance and effort in order to achieve a certain position in this field. From challenges such as learning about procedures in a new country with a different legal system, and starting a business in another country with little experience, to having to equip knowledge outside the industry such as content writing, communication, personal branding, and customer service.
Recalling the early stages of her career, attorney Ngan Tran said that gaining experience and finding clients were two significant challenges she had faced in Australia. Lawyer Cindy shared a similar view when talking about challenges in practicing.
Ms. Tram Nguyen – the moderator, also had a similar experience of being rejected by numerous law firms in the US. However, with perseverance, and learning from experiences after each failure, she found the right job that she loved in Manhattan, New York City.
Despite different situations, the guests totally agreed that passion for intellectual property plays a key role in staying motivated in this field. Like the quote:“When you want to give up, remember why you started”.
When mentioned about specific situations when practicing in China and the United States, attorney Wei talked about a complicated case with a lot of legal issues that have to be resolved. With perseverance, she completed that case.
Talking about her time practicing in Australia, attorney Ngan Tran said that despite many challenges, it is important to practice regularly to gain experience and upgrade to the next level, actively promote her personal brand, and find clients from various channels. Empathizing, Ms. Tram Nguyen early that intellectual property practitioners need to give themselves enough time and patience, if they give up early, they will refuse the opportunity to win themselves.
Besides, the guests talked about upgrading their professional knowledge. Attorney Ngan Tran shared that she also participated in a number of short courses to broaden her understanding and increase service quality. She knows deeper customer needs with the knowledge she gained from the courses, allowing her to communicate effectively.
Talking about building a reputation in this field, guests completely agreed that the process of “from zero to hero” is not an easy job. As lawyer Wei shared, when creating the company’s website, she did not think there were any people reaching out. But then, thanks to writing a lot of articles and public them in magazines related to the intellectual property field, she is known and found by more customers.
Attorney Ngan Tran shared a lot of practical experiences. In her view, practitioners need to classify and deeply understand customer needs. In that situations, she can communicate effectively. Take language communication as an example, on the Linkedin platform, there are a lot of friends and international colleagues who communicate in English. It means she using English to be more effective. While sharing simple articles on intellectual property on social media mostly Vietnamese she uses Vietnamese. Besides, she also regularly writes a lot of articles related to intellectual property in newspapers and magazines such as The Saigon Times. Since then, most people remember and know that she is an attorney specializing in trademarks in Australia and New Zealand.
Going deeper into the practice, Ms. Tram Nguyen posed the challenge of how to harmonize when national laws can have significant disparities in legal theory (common law against civil law). Attorney Ngan Tran said that because she studied law in Vietnam and then in Australia, she was able to research and find the differences in the laws of each country. For example, if a client needs to register a trademark in Australia, she would advise them to use the mark as soon as possible because this country applies the principle of “first to use”. On the contrary, if the client is in Vietnam, she would advise them to file the application as soon as possible because the principle of “first to file” is applied.
In the international environment, guests believe that practitioners need to build multinational networks. However, building a multinational network requires many soft skills. Attorney Wei suggests that young people should start and keep relationships with old “networks” like schoolmates. From there, they can set build an image of a person with an imprint (personality), a good service law firm… so that clients can put their trust and introduce your legal services to many others.
Having similar ideas, Attorney Ngan Tran believes that young people should take advantage of the opportunity to meet other people, from different environments and events. Meeting face-to-face often easy to create impressions and emotions. However, when starting a business, an attorney should also consider about development strategy, budget, and a way to build the right relationship. As someone who has about 8 years of practice in the United States and has participated in many international professional conferences, Ms. Tram Nguyen said that when working in international agencies such as WIPO office or participating in events, it is all good opportunity to settle, connect and maintain relationships. Besides, she also mentioned participating on social networking platforms, interest groups. In general, the guests emphasized the important role of relationships in the practice.
When mentioning skills that students need to equip before practicing, lawyer Wei mentioned that taking care of clients and upgrading knowledge is extremely important. Meanwhile, Attorney Ngan Tran has a clearer distinction. She is that critical thinking and research skills must-have “hard skills”. Regarding “soft skills”, she advises students to improve their communication skills, both speaking and writing. Depending on the environment and the audience, writing or speaking plays their role. Ms. Tram Nguyen added, that how to calculate fees and how to quote prices to ensure competition in the market are two important skills. However, these skills are often appropriate for someone who has a certain professional experience.
After more than an hour of lively discussion, the guests invited participants to join the Q&A. Many interesting questions about practicing are raised, such as whether it is important to study for a master’s degree with the orientation of becoming a lawyer, how to manage work effectively and on time… and close with a “trend” question. Ms. Tram Nguyen: Will artificial intelligence (AI) replace jobs in the field of intellectual property? Sharing the same opinion, the guests said that AI can only assist in a few jobs, not replacing the role of an attorney. More importantly, AI can’t bring emotions, can’t bring beliefs, etc. things that only humans can do.
With nearly 2 hours for guests to present and the Q&A with participants, the webinar provided a lot of essential information on intellectual property practice. With a limited time, this information focuses on the main idea, it takes time to exploit more and present specifically. However, the sharing of the guests is extremely valuable for those who want to practice in the field of intellectual property, the way is full of challenges but is always interesting and worthy to set foot in.
Nguyen Thai Hai Lam
Saigon, May 5th 2023