Blog by Anneloes Westein
In this second blog by Formalities Officer Anneloes Westein, she explains why her work is sometimes like top-level sport. Maybe it will surprise some people, but in my work as a Formalities Officer, sitting quietly behind a desk is far from standard practice. During office days, it is important for me to stay mentally sharp and focused throughout the day. But did you know that sometimes my colleagues and I also have to literally run a sprint? At times, my work feels like top-level sport.
Whenever I have an interview with an applicant who wants to become a Formalities Officer, I almost always get the following question: "why is this work fun?" And I always reply: because no day, no client, no file and no note is the same! That's the fun part of this job: you can come across the same kind of note in ten files, and yet you might not expect this note in any of them. For example, I recently had a corrected filing receipt from the US Patent Trial and Appeal Office (USPTO). I received a corrected filing receipt for three cases from the same client, and one of those cases contained a completely wrong applicant. It was partly due to my mental fitness that I detected this error in time, and I was able to call the USPTO immediately to have it corrected. Just like athletes, we too must always stay sharp and focused.
AT TOP SPEED TO THE NETHERLANDS PATENT OFFICE
Besides our mental fitness, our work sometimes tests our physical fitness. Because our office is so close to Octrooicentrum Nederland (OCNL), one of my colleagues, for example, once had to take the bike to pick up something there in great urgency. We received a last-minute request on Friday afternoon to file a subsequent filing. For this, we did need a physical priority document. My colleague rushed to call the OCNL, and was able to arrange to receive a priority document that very afternoon. He cycled there at top speed while we in the office took care of the rest of the application. Fortunately, we met the deadline, which was a great example of teamwork!
PATENT ATTORNEY IN THE STARTING BLOCKS
On occasion, we also had to submit 9 PCT applications to the European Patent Office (EPO) in one day. So many applications in one day does not happen often, but we knew well in advance that we had to submit them on this day. However, the texts and drawings were not finalised until the morning of submission, so we could not upload them into the submission system before then. As the applications each contained over 300 pages of text and drawings, we received a number of error messages due to the size of the files. With two Formalities Officers and two patent attorneys, we then worked all day to get all the submissions through. In the evening around 7pm, we were waiting for the very last one. And that one just didn't get through! We then printed all the documents and faxed them the old-fashioned way. To be on the safe side, one of the patent attorneys had already grabbed his coat and was ready to drive to the EPO quickly if necessary to submit the application in person. Fortunately, around 8pm, the redeeming word came and the last application had also gone through the filing system properly. At a time like that, after a day with a lot of pressure on my shoulders to submit all the applications correctly and on time, it feels like I've been sprinting all day!
Anneloes Westein, Formalities Officer