In various European countries, there is a great deal of enthusiasm about the approach and method of the Platform Formalities Officers (PFO). In less than ten years, the PFO has developed into a respected platform. High time to find out a bit more about it. Ronald van Egmond, PFO board member and business support senior advisor at V.O., answers five questions.
1. What is the PFO?
‘It’s a special association for administrative professionals who are active in the world of intellectual property. Whether they work in business or at a patent agency. The most important pillar of the platform is education, which is why we also set up a certified training course for administrative professionals.
2. Why was the PFO established?
‘Patent attorneys always had their own training, but there wasn’t any training for the administrative professionals. Each company or organisation had its own on-the-job training. But that meant that it also took a relatively long time before you got to grips with the central thread. The issue of training came up during networking sessions, and that was actually the start of the PFO in 2009. Now we have around 350 members.’
3. What does the PFO offer?
‘Most importantly, our six-month training course, but we also offer a number of masterclasses every year. The training is mainly attended by professionals who have already made a start in the subject area and are ready to deepen their knowledge and understanding. We offer traditional training, in which students have 12 to 13 days of training. That gives you a proper introduction into the subject and you will learn all about European legislation, for example, and of course all about the procedures and formalities that need to be followed. The majority of students come from patent agencies such as V.O.; the rest come from the world of business. V.O. itself thinks this is very important, as it ensures that the administrative process reaches a higher level; colleagues know more about what they are doing as a result. Of course, it is confirmation for clients that the administrative process is in good hands.’
4. Where does the European interest come from?
‘Partly from the establishment of the European Platform of Intellectual Property Administrators (EPIPA), an international platform. And partly from excellent contacts with the European Patent Office. A number of European countries are also interested in our training courses and our association. The European Patent Office is also enthusiastic. The aim now is to intensify the partnership.’
5. What is the result of your platform?
‘Our training courses and masterclasses increase the level of the subject and it is undisputable that this leads to a type of standardisation in the industry.’