Continuing professional education (CPE)
Registered patent attorneys and trade marks attorneys have a professional obligation to develop and maintain their knowledge and skills so they can maintain high standards of service and remain on our registers.
Continuing professional education (CPE) should not present challenges to the committed professional attorney who already spends considerable time keeping up with changes to Australia’s business environment and intellectual property (IP) laws.
Attorneys are aware of changes to legislation, case law, technology trends and the laws and practices of major trading partners.
All registered patent or trade marks attorneys must complete at least 10 hours of formal CPE per year.
Attorneys registered as both patent and trade marks attorneys must complete 15 hours per year.
There is no pro-rata reduction in these hours provided in the regulations to take into account part-time attorneys or those taking a leave of absence.
Attorneys who do not meet CPE requirements may be suspended for up to six months. This is decided by the Designated Manager.
The Designated Manager position is held by the Director General of IP Australia.
The Designated Manager may conditionally approve an attorney's renewal on the proviso that any hours not completed in the previous year will be made up the next year.
During annual renewals, attorneys will be asked to confirm via the CPE Statement for Renewals that they have completed the required hours of CPE in the previous year.
Giving false written statements, or failing to produce records (when requested), will result in removal of the attorney’s name from either or both registers.
Mandatory continuing professional education requirements
Attorneys must complete five hours of training relevant to their practice area and at least one hour of ethics training.
Ideally, attorneys should undertake a breadth of activities in any year.
Timeframe for completing continuing professional education
CPE activities must be completed each year (the actual period is 12 months immediately before the date on which the attorney applies for registration renewal).
Attorneys who complete more than the minimum requirement, cannot carry any additional time forward as credit for following years.
Where an attorney is registered for the first time, the requirement to undertake CPE will not begin until after their first renewal period.
Continuing professional education providers
The Board no longer accredits events, seminars or conferences with a specific number of CPE hours.
The Board has published the continuing professional education guidelines to help attorneys understand all requirements.
The guidelines outline what are acceptable CPE activities and provide a summary of CPE requirements.
The CPE requirements may be met by a range of educational activities including:
- Delivering lectures (including at a conference or in a formal study program).
- Attending lectures and workshops, viewing educational videos and participating in on-line activities such as webinars, podcasts, or study programs.
- Formal in-house training programs, lectures or seminars designed to update knowledge and skills within the profession.
- Courses of study at educational institutions insofar as the content is relevant to the work of the attorney.
- Participation in organised discussion groups on topics of professional interest.
- Service on technical committees of a professional body.
- Writing articles, papers or books with substantial technical content.
- Teaching in relevant courses, including award courses and continuing education programs relevant to the profession.
- Completion of a personal study program (see below).
- Other study, not included above, which can be demonstrated to achieve the desired outcomes of CPE.
Tips for meeting continuing professional education requirements
- Attend conferences and seminars by attorney professional bodies.
- Keep good records. Record the dates, names and content of your CPE. This information will be required if you are audited.
- Don't rely too much on training required for other professions. This includes legal continuing professional development. ‘Double-dipping’ is permitted, but the training must be relevant to the attorney profession.
- Don't rely on internal practice meetings. These may not qualify as relevant training.
- Some private study can count as CPE. This can include reading trade magazines, such as Trademark World. If you are a registered trade marks or patent attorney, you can count up to three hours of private study. If you are registered as both, you can count up to four-and-a-half hours.
The CPE template can help you record your CPE: