Young Practitioners: Problem Solving During COVID-19
Until recently for young intellectual property professionals, learning their craft was much like walking down a well-worn path. Common strategies for dealing with obstacles encountered included asking mentors and peers, referring to industry guidelines or commentary, and following precedents and past practices that have proven successful.
However, these are not normal times. For many, the workplace has transformed from the traditional office environment with co-workers being easily accessible via meetings and impromptu discussions to a “virtual” office. Social distancing means that many of our co-workers are in different physical locations relying on e-mail, phone calls and WebEx/Zoom meetings to communicate and collaborate.
Furthermore, approaches to solving problems may require adaptation as legal and regulatory requirements are temporarily modified. Where a solution could previously be readily obtained by asking your office neighbour or referring to precedents, that is not always the case now. For example:
· You may find it necessary to develop new approaches and practices to communicate with clients. For instance, some clients may prefer to interface in person with samples and demonstrations. Although technologies such as WebEx/Zoom can largely address this, client concerns about privacy and technological literacy issues may require some creativity on your part.
· For those with multinational practices dealing with applications in different jurisdictions, there have not been uniform policies adopted with respect to deadline extensions and other relief, and conditions upon which those available. In some situations, precedents cannot be so readily relied upon and extra investigation and analysis may be required.
· For those with clients with patent protection relevant to medical applications, the passing of Bill C-13 aka the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act (royal assent on March 25, 2020) includes amendments to Canada’s Patent Act to authorize the use of patented inventions necessary to respond to a public health emergency of national concern. If this potentially affects your clients, you may want to consider if and when it needs to be discussed.
During these times, you should generally be able to rely on your previous strategies to tackle current problems, but you may find it necessary to go a bit further and to dig a bit deeper.