A salt and a fork, or the importance of being earnest

The last two weeks of the trainee programme arrived. We reunited again under the roof of the Copenhagen office, warmly welcomed by our Danish colleagues with a never disappointing fika. Having energised and sugar-treated we were ready to interpret claims in their broadest sense and apply the doctrine of equivalents to the fullest. It was only our imagination and common sense that set the limit. Needless to say, the imagination prevailed.

An unexpected surprise was awaiting us later in the afternoon. Flowers were changed. A new generation of sugar treats appeared. Our lecture room turned into a court arena, where our mentor became the chairman of the court. And we became parties to oral proceedings before the Danish court in a heated dispute over the purity of a salt formulation. Luckily, the salt matter was peacefully resolved, and the plaintiff was awarded 600 million DKK in damages. The lesson learned - purity matters.

The rest of the week we spent at the Malmö office, regularly fed and pampered. We were to discuss grounds for opposition, another important aspect of our new profession. The question of the day was anything but mundane. What is a fork really? No coffee or sugar could help us to reach a consensus on this intricate matter. Albeit our mentor did. The "fork" shall serve the client. As simple as it gets.

After a stimulating week in the south, we headed north, to the Stockholm office. Straight away we dived into idiosyncrasies of the US patent system and the duty of disclosure. If there is a single thing it taught us, it is the importance of disclosure, or the importance of being earnest. Finally, we faced the ultimate challenge of the trainee programme and orally stand our ground in opposition proceedings before the "EPO". The oral proceedings put all our knowledge and skills to the test and showed us how much we had learned and, more importantly, how much more was there still to learn.

As all great things in life, the training programme came to an end, sadly. It was an inspiring and rewarding experience with a steep learning curve. Along the way we met a lot of devoted practitioners who shaped our reality by sharing their knowledge, experience and contagious enthusiasm. We parted but we knew that we would soon meet again as our journey to becoming a patent consultant at Awa just started. And this is what makes us one.

Irina Demina