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An eye for detail: examining designs at the IPO

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A few weeks ago as part of International Women’s Day, we spoke to Trade Mark Examiner Toni Williams about working at the IPO. This week, in keeping with the theme of women in examining roles, we talk to Designs Examiner Rachel Hancocks. But before we get started...

What is a registered design?

A registered design protects the overall look and feel of a product. The ‘look’ includes the appearance, shape, configuration (how different parts of a design are grouped together) and decoration. Registered designs last up to 25 years, providing you renew them every 5 years and can cost from as little as £50.

For more information on designs, check out our IP Basics video:

Now that we know a bit more about designs, let's hear from Rachel about what it's like to be a Designs Examiner.

How long have you worked at the IPO?

I've worked at the IPO for 12 years and have had various roles during this time.

What does your current role involve?

I am part of a small team of examiners who ensure design applications are processed in line with the Registered Designs Act and Registered Design Rules. We work closely with our customers to explain verbally and in writing the reasons for arriving at decisions. We then suggest ways the customer can move forward to obtain design registration.

Examinations are carried out in line with customer demand. We also attend meetings and training sessions on a regular basis to ensure our knowledge and working methods are consistent and up to date.

How did you get into examining?

I enjoyed my previous role in the office but felt it was time for a change.  After learning a bit more about designs and chatting to the manager, it became clear that designs was just about to undergo a huge change. A new electronic system was about to be built and introduced and existing ways of working were about to change quite dramatically. This sounded exciting and something I wanted to be part of. It seemed like a good time to be joining the team and we could all learn together.

Rachel Hancocks
Rachel Hancocks

What’s the most interesting part of your role?

I like that each design is different and you never know what you’re going to get. This means it doesn’t get boring. It’s also interesting to see the designs before they are made public and appear in supermarkets or adverts. The job is also constantly evolving. For example, we are now examining international designs as well as UK applications.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was growing up I wanted to be a teacher. However, now I have 2 small children of my own, I think I made the right decision not going down the teaching path. They are more than enough to handle! My colleagues in designs are fab and they make the job really enjoyable.

What advice would you give to those considering a career at the IPO?

I really enjoy being a designs examiner. The job is varied and constantly evolving. There’s a lot going on and opportunities to do things other than just examine. The team are also very helpful and supportive.

It was great chatting to Rachel and her passion for examining designs is clear. If you’ve enjoyed learning more about examiner roles at the IPO, keep your eyes peeled for a patent examiner blog coming sometime soon!

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