Shellie: 

Hi everybody and thank you for joining us for our webinar.  This is for the IP Australia Trade Mark Examiner training intake.  My name is Shellie and I’m the chairperson of the panel.  This is Barnaby, he’s on the panel.  This is Anupa, she’s on the panel.  This is Jessie, she’s also on the panel and she’s currently a trainer.  And this is Alex, who is currently a trainee, so he’ll be able to give you some information about life as a trainee at IP Australia.

Just some housekeeping at the beginning, your mics will all be muted so we won’t be able to hear you but you can hear us.  So you’ll need to type your questions into the chat screen on your computer.  And also, there’s a link on the bottom of your screen.  If there’s any kind of tech issues, send an email to that and we’ll be able to give you a link to the recording of this afterwards.

We’re going to start by playing you a video that we’ve put together to give you an idea of what life is like as a Trade Mark Examiner, so we’ll play that first.

 

“A Day in the Life of a Trade Mark Examiner”:

Alexandra:

We get applications in from all over Australia, and the world, and we decide whether the trade marks are in line with the Trade Mark Act. My name is Alexandra and I am a trade mark examiner at IP Australia.

Alex:

Currently I’m a trainee at IP Australia. I’m learning all the skills required to become a trade mark examiner. I’m going through extensive training that involves learning each part of the Trade Mark Act. My name’s Alex Murray and I work at IP Australia as a trade mark examiner.

Era:

A typical day at IP Australia examining trade marks would be looking at what tasks you have for the day, looking at emails, if you have any all staff meetings, or any activities that are going around in the organisation. My name is Era and I’m a trade mark examiner at IP Australia.

Marc:

While the process of examination remains the same, the content is different in terms of what the trade mark is, what the claim is for, and how we go about researching it. My name is Marc O’Neill and I’m a trade mark examiner at IP Australia.

Era:

You have some black and white decisions, for example checking if the owner is able to legally hold property. But then there’s subjective decisions as well which are somewhat grey.

Alexandra:

We’re asking questions like is this trade mark descriptive? Do other traders need to genuinely use this trade mark in their course of trade? Does someone else already have this trade mark out there or a trade mark that’s quite similar to this one?

Era:

After completing the assessment we communicate the results of the trade mark examination to the applicants. We do that either on the phone or we do it in writing.

Marc:

Analysis and decision making is such a big part of this job. We do a lot of consultation and we do a lot of meetings and sessions with other examiners, with some of the subject matter experts.

Alexandra:

There’s actually a real life application to what we’re doing here so I find it really cool when I go to the shops and I actually see a trade mark that I might have examined and approved the other week there on the shelf and it kind of makes me remember that there actually is somebody behind the screen who is applying for these trade marks and I actually have been part of their journey.

Alex:

What I like most about my job is probably the people and just being able to bounce ideas off other people that I work with.

Alexandra:

We have a great team culture. You have a group around you, you have a trade mark family if you will, that will help you and you can consult with them on difficult decisions that you have.

Marc:

I really like the environment and the people that I’ve come to know to work with here have been great from the start to present. The relationships that I’ve formed here have been fantastic.

Alex:

It’s intellectually challenging, there’s also a collaborative aspect which I really enjoy.

Era:

It’s great being a trade mark examiner because you’re part of a very unique team that’s well trained and it’s well supported.

 

Shellie:

I believe, Andrew, your sound went.  There’s actually a link at the bottom of the screen to a Youtube address for this video so if you’d like to go and have a look at that, you can go and watch it on Youtube.

So basically, I guess now we’ll open the floor to you guys if you have any questions about the job.  Does anyone have any questions they’d like to ask?

Anupa:

Jade has a question.  How long does the recruitment process take?

Barnaby:

The recruitment process, once we’ve finalised applications, and the final applications are due towards the end of August, the entire process takes around about a month, 3-4 weeks I would say.

Anupa:

James has another question, “Are there many positions available?”

Shellie:

We’re actually looking at about 20 this time around but we will be recruiting again in around about March.  So we’ll have positions then as well.  So there are quite a few positions available.

Anupa:

Jade has another question, “Are all positions Canberra based?”

Shellie:

Yes.  While you are a trainee, all the positions are Canberra based.  You’ll need to come into the office because we have a fairly extensive training program.  I don’t know if Jessie as a trainer wants to mention anything about the training?

Jessie:

Absolutely.  So the training course itself is a competency based training program.  It’s run over 3 stages over a maximum period of about 2 years.  Within that time, you’ll be Canberra-based.  It’s a lot of face-to-face training with trainers and other trade mark examiners in the office.  Outside of that, once you’ve finished that training program, there’s the potential for flexible working arrangements which can include interstate work.

Anupa:

Ok, two questions, the first one that Vildana has is “What are some desired foundational skills that would make someone more suitable for trade mark examination?”

Barnaby:

I’ve got this one.  I think we’re looking for people with strong decision making skills.  If you have a background in research, I think that would be quite valuable as well. But generally speaking, there is no single qualification that we would require.  I think we’re looking for well-rounded individuals who show the capacity to work well within a team, and also, as I mentioned before, have that strong decision making capability and can work in certain timeframes and timelines to meet deadlines.

Shellie:

Things like attention to detail are also important.

Anupa:

Arianne has a question.  She says “I think I should probably direct this question specifically towards Alex given he’s been in the latest round and his take will be the freshest.  Which part of the job has been the steepest learning curve for you and which have you enjoyed the most?”

Alex:

That’s a good question.  To answer the first part, what has the steepest learning curve been, I suppose just generally working around the Trade Mark Act.  So just learning all the vernacular, like the jargon and that kind of thing that comes with that, I’m slowly getting there, so I’d probably say that’s been the steepest learning curve for me.  For your second part, the part I’ve enjoyed the most, the training, while it’s extensive, it’s good because you’re with about another 20 trainees.  You get a chance to discuss with them and you’re really not alone, you’ve got coaches, such as Jessie here.  So yeah, probably the training and generally how it goes.

Anupa:

And Jade says “I’m not from Canberra, what support would you have for me if I have to relocate?”

Shellie:

We do move people from interstate.  We look after…

Barnaby:

We’re willing to meet any reasonable cost associated with your relocation.  We can, in certain circumstances, provide temporary accommodation once you’ve moved here.  We can also assist in moving if you’ve come from interstate.

Alex:

Yeah, that’s what I had when I moved 5 months ago now, and they looked after me.

Anupa:

Another question from Jade, “Your job doc mentions a flexible workplace.  Can you elaborate?”

Shellie:

This one is… apart from your training period where, again, you have to be in the office, because it is quite an extensive training, and an intensive training period, once you’ve reached what we call full delegation, we do have the ability for people to work from home, for people to work interstate.  We are actually moving towards a more flexible working place.  If you come into IP Australia, you’ll see we have significant work going on outside where we’re refurbing basically the whole building and we’re moving towards a more activity-based work environment.  So it’s going to be much more open-plan and much more flexible so we’re definitely moving towards a more flexible working environment.

Anupa:

Jade asks “Can you explain how the APS4 to 6 broadband works?”

Barnaby:

I can field that question.  The way a broadband situation works is that you would enter the organisation as an APS4 and working through our system you wouldn’t necessarily have to apply for or go through an interview and application process to move through to different levels in the APS, the APS5 and APS6.  It’s based on going through our competency based training system.  So once you’ve demonstrated that you’re capable of doing the tasks associated with an APS5 and APS6 role, you can gather that evidence together and submit it through in terms of the competency based training package.  That’ll be assessed and you’ll move forward through to that next level.  But you will start at an APS4 level when you do begin here.

Anupa:

Our next question from Arianne, “What’s the strategic approach to teaching new trainees the nitty gritty of the legislation? Is it very chalk and talk?  Or is the focus on applied learning?  I imagine you’d need to build quite a broad base of quasi-legal expertise in this space to cope with the variety of applications.”

Shellie:

Jessie?

Jessie:

Yes, so the training is quite extensive.  A lot of our decisions, well all of our decisions in trade mark examination do come from the Trade Mark Act and case law as well.  So given that it is a bit more of a legal background, that’s why we provide some extensive training.  So we give foundational training to all of our trainees to understand the principles and concepts behind the legislation to then be able to apply that in a practical way with the examination that they undertake in their job.  It is a combination training program, so you do have some face-to-face training.  You have some classroom-type training, as well as on the job training, so doing worked examples and exercises as well as full examination of applications that come in to IP Australia.

Shellie:

(To Barnaby) Did you want to add anything to that?

Barnaby:

Basically it’s not all a chalk and talk kind of thing.  You’d be given the opportunity to learn on the job and apply it in a practical sense, apply the knowledge that you’re taught in a practical sense, and that’s a major focus of our training program.  So Jessie’s correct, it is a combination.  You’re provided the initial learning and then you’re given the opportunity to apply that in a real world example.

Anupa:

So Andrew has two questions.  They’re both in relation to applying or writing the application.  So first one is “What advice do you have for us middle-aged folk who have never applied for a public service job?  So in terms of writing an application and going through the process.  And the other question is, there seems to be an overlap in the two questions in the application, how would you approach this please?”

Shellie:

In terms of “middle-aged”, don’t let that put you off, we have a very wide range of age groups in IP Australia, and who enter into IP Australia at all different stages of life.  The way that we’ve worded our criteria is that we’ve outlined the job specific capabilities.  So these are the capabilities that we look for to actually do the job.  But our question is then, looking at all of that stuff, tell us a professional or personal achievement.  So it doesn’t have to be something in the workplace.  It can be a personal achievement that actually encompasses those specific skills that we’ve had.  So that’s the second one.  And an explanation of how your knowledge, skills and experience are relevant to the role.  So you’ve said that you’re a middle-aged person.  You’ve probably got lots of experience that you can probably bring to the role.  So I think, don’t feel that you’re locked into simply office work-based examples.  I think what we’re looking for in terms of this is, how can you, with all of your experience in life, actually relate it to the things that we need.

Barnaby:

That’s right, I think the first question is more a focus on reading what our job-specific requirements are and matching your skills and the knowledge that you have at the moment to those things.  Question 2 was focusing more on real world examples of time that you’ve demonstrated what you’ve achieved in a real-life situation.  There is a slight difference between the two.  I can see how you might think there’s an overlap, but for the first question in particular, look through the job capability documents that we list and do your best to match your skills to those capabilities there.  And in the second, we just want to hear about your achievements, what you’ve managed to achieve in your previous positions or personal life.

Shellie:

And we have included personal achievements in there because we recognise that not everybody who’s coming into the role has actually been in the workforce either for a long time or ever.  Because we do get lots of university people and things like that.  So feel free to tell us about your personal achievements.  And they’re as valid as your professional achievements.

Anupa:

Andrew says “Thank you very much.”

Shellie:

No worries.

Anupa:

The next question is from James, “When would this round of positions start work at IP Australia?”

Shellie:

We are looking at probably around mid-November I think it worked out that we were going to start this.  This closes on the 26th of August.  And then we’ve got our series of short-listing, testing, interviews, and then we’re looking at people, in order to give them room to have their security checks and things done, which can sometimes take a little bit of time, about mid-November is what we’re looking at.

Anupa:

And following on from that, Andrew has a question, “What proportion of people get short-listed to the online testing stage?”

Barnaby:

If we think you’ve got suitable skills, we will send you through to testing.  We don’t have a set percentage.  If we feel like you’re a worthy candidate, you’ll progress to testing.

Anupa:

Jade has a question, “What does an average day for a trade mark examiner look like?”

Barnaby:

As a fully delegated trade mark examiner outside of training, generally speaking, your main task would be examining a trade mark application.  So an application would come through.  You’d assess it against various criteria that we look at when we’re looking at a trade mark application.  If there’s additional work required on that application, you’d be formulating reports and communicating those to clients, answering queries from clients regarding issues that they’ve been made aware of.  Beyond that, that’s not simply the job though, you’ll be required to be involved in things along the lines of projects that improve our customer service, work to benefit our technical knowledge and our processes.  So your main work is trade mark examination but you’ll be doing a whole bunch of work that is ancillary to that and supports it.

Shellie:

And once you become an APS6 here, you’ll also have supervisory coaching work to do as well.  So once you’ve reached that level of expertise within the workplace, you’re generally looking after somebody else.  You’ll be helping them with their work.  You may get a trainee to look after, you may be like Jessie and actually be in the training area.  We also have lots of, as Barnaby said, there’s lots of projects that you can put your hand up for.  There’s any number of technical consultation groups.  You also speak to the customers quite a bit on the phone.  There’s different streams of examination that you can do that involve more talking to customers and things like that.  So as Barnaby said, it’s not just sitting down and churning out trade marks.  As you work your way higher in the broadband, your scope of work expands and the things that you can actually become involved in expand as well.

Anupa:

I think you’ve answered the next question with that.  So the next question was from Vildana, “Is there scope for the role of a trade mark examiner to evolve beyond purely decision making, for example, project work?”

Shellie:

Yes.

Barnaby:

Absolutely.  I think trade mark examination can be an entry to a variety of different careers within IP Australia.  I think you can move beyond, we have trade mark examiners who have moved to our International and Domestic Policy areas, our Hearings and Opposition area, our Continuous Improvement area.  Once you’ve worked through and become a competent trade mark examiner, there are other avenues open to you.  When you start, of course your main role will be as a trade mark examiner, but there are career opportunities open to you once you get to IP Australia.  They may not be available initially.  You’re going to have to go through training first.  But once you go through training and demonstrated competency in trade mark examination, that will give you a variety of skills that you can use elsewhere in the organisation if you so choose.

Anupa:

Next question from Andrew, “Could you tell us more about the format and content of the online and written testing?  Also, how long do the tests take?”

Shellie:

We have 2 sets of online testing.  One is what we call an abstract reasoning and verbal reasoning test.  That’s actually quite a short one.  I think the test in its entirety is about 18 minutes.  So it’s quite a short one.  And what that looks at is your accuracy at speed to respond to certain questions.  The second test will be essentially one that looks at your ability to take a piece of information and extrapolate from that to give us a well-reasoned response to it.  And that one’s not a long one at all as well.  I think it’s about 30 minutes that we allow for that.  They’ll both be given to you online.  They’re not long tests, but they give us the information that we need, I think.

Anupa:

Following on from that, Arianne has a question regarding the testing, “I actually interviewed for the last round and was rather pleased with my aptitude testing.  Am I correct in my recollection that your scores are retained in the system and valid for 12 months?”

Barnaby:

We actually have changed our testing provider so you may be required to test again.  We’ve changed our testing format as well.  Where we’ve had cognitive testing and abstract reasoning before, we no longer have a personality test.  So certain tests have changed so you may be required to take them again.

Anupa:

Andrew’s asking “Is it correct that there are 40 spots this financial year?  As in, 2 rounds of recruitment?”

Barnaby:

That is possibly correct.  Our intention is to, after this intake which will be about 20 people, our intention is to have another intake around about March.  Things are always subject to change though.  Beyond this intake of 20 people, I would hesitate to guarantee that we would be recruiting in the very near future, but it is our intention.

Anupa:

Next question from Andrew, “What computer skills do we need?  As an Apple user, should I bone up on PC things?”

Barnaby:

Generally speaking, we use Word documents.  Beyond that, you’ll be given sufficient training to be able to make use of our technical resources.  It’s not terribly onerous, you don’t need to know a wide variety of systems, you don’t have to be proficient in Excel, for example.  I think, generally speaking, if you have a base knowledge of computing and how to use relatively simple word processing programs, you’ll be fine.

Shellie:

We have specific trade marks programs that we use, so you’ll get full training in all of that.  There’s no real prior knowledge expected in those at all because they are specific to the job. So, basic computer literacy and comfort with computers, I think will be fine.

Anupa:

A question from Jade, “Shellie and Barnaby, you both mentioned getting full delegation.  What does that mean?”

Shellie:

When you’re what we call a fully delegated trade mark examiner, you’re delegated to make decisions on behalf of the Registrar of Trade Marks.  So your training is designed to take you up to that period.  You start with no delegation, so none of the decisions that you make are actually signed off by you because you’re still a trainee.  You’ll get to a certain period in your training where you’ll be what we call partially delegated, which means a certain percentage of your work, we will have assessed you as competent to sign off.  The rest of them will again be signed off by your trainers.  Your full delegation basically means that we’re satisfied that you are competent to sign off and make decisions fully on behalf of the Registrar and the decision that you make will be correct, they’ll be grounded in practice, they’ll be grounded in law and you’ll be fine.  So it does take a while to get there because that’s a fairly weighty thing to actually do, making decisions on behalf of the Registrar, but that’s what all of your training is designed to move you towards.

Anupa:

Andrew just has a question about the online testing and whether an Apple computer would be fine.

Barnaby:

I believe it will be.  They are web-based.  I think you should be fine, if you do run into any issues, please let us know.

Anupa:

Andrew’s next question, “How long is probation?”

Shellie:

Six months.

Barnaby:

Probation is 6 months, yes.

Anupa:

And Andrew’s next question, “How many applications would you normally receive?”

Barnaby:

We could probably reasonably expect somewhere between 250 to 400.  Of course, depending on the time of year, that may vary.

Shellie:

Just on to your probation question as well, probation is 6 months, but if we bring you in, you also come in under what we call Conditions of Engagement.  So what Conditions of Engagement are, is you’ll sign up to these conditions that will basically give you milestones that you have to reach within a certain period of time within your training.  It’s basically to make sure that you’re going along the way that we need you to go. That will go alongside your probation, and so you’ll have to sign up to those as well as passing your probation.

Barnaby:

Basically speaking, with the Conditions of Engagement, you do need to demonstrate that you’re competent to perform certain tasks within certain timeframes.  They’re not terribly onerous.  Generally speaking, I wouldn’t think that that should turn you away from applying for this position.  You’ll be given more than enough support to reach those milestones.

One more thing about probation, if you’re currently an APS employee, you may not be under probation.

Anupa:

Andrew’s question, “What other general advice would you have for applicants?”

Barnaby:

Generally speaking, I think we’d want you to put your best foot forward.  I know that sounds very generic, but in terms of your application, try and link your skills to the job capabilities that we mentioned.  We want to get a good sense of who you are and what your capabilities are.  Once you move through that phase, generally speaking, the testing is there to add a level of stress to you, and I understand that people don’t like these online tests, but that’s part of it.  So I think we just want you to put your best foot forward.  We want to hear what your skills are, what you think your capabilities are, if you can demonstrate to us that you’re a reasonable decision maker, that given certain knowledge that you can reasonably make a decision and meet certain deadlines and timeframes, meet goals within a timely manner.  I think that’s generally what we’re looking for.

Shellie:

That you can look at a piece of information and extrapolate answers from there.  Anything else that you guys think?

Jessie:

I think that’s about it, just keeping to the job description and the specific requirements of that job and answering those.

Anupa:

James has a question, “What is the most rewarding part of the job?”

Shellie:

I think everyone should answer this one.

Jessie:

I guess for me at the moment being a coach, the rewarding part is seeing trainees go through and develop those skills and be able to apply that in a real-time situation.  You do get to see the benefits of the examinations that you do as well.  So any of the trade marks that you might see when out while you’re shopping or out in the public, you might see something that you’ve done.  And also, having conversations with customers that you deal with through that examination process, I think being able to help them through that process is quite rewarding.

Alex:

I guess my answer might be a bit varied to these guys because I’m still a trainee.  I suppose just whenever I do learn a new concept that I might find challenging, it is quite rewarding to finally get my head around something.

Anupa:

For me, well I’m fairly new as well, and so far the most rewarding part has been how challenging and interesting and varied the work is.  When you come to work, everyday it’s something different that you have to deal with, so I really like the variety.

Shellie:

As a team leader, I find it quite rewarding working with people, again like Jessie, it’s great to get somebody who may be struggling a little bit and bring them along so that they can actually be really good at their job.  And also, you get really chuffed when you see a trade mark that you helped someone get through the system out there in the marketplace and doing what it’s supposed to do.  That’s always really good.

Barnaby:

For me, I think the best part of the job for me is that we deliver something to a customer. IP Rights, particularly trade marks, can be really quite valuable to our applicants and whatever the answer is, we may end up refusing or rejecting their trade mark application, but at least they have knowledge that they can use in the marketplace. We wouldn’t want someone to open themselves up to using a mrade mark that is not enforceable, not robust and if you can get someone a solid trade mark right they can rely on, that they can use it in the marketplace with confidence. I think that’s really valuable and that’s something that I really take a great pleasure in doing.

Anupa:

Ok, Andrew has another question, “What backgrounds have other successful applicants come from?”

Shellie:

We’ve got lots of backgrounds. We have quite a few people who are ex-teachers, we have people who are straight out of Uni, we have people who have worked in other places in the Public Service.

Barnaby:

I don’t think we have one particular dominant stream. We do see a lot of Law graduates, we do have a lot of teachers for whatever reason, we’ve got previous APS employees, people who have some experience in the APS processing business requests or requests from other departments making decisions based on legislation, we have ex-military, I worked in a casino previously. Really quite varied, there isn’t one particular stream or qualification that we would require. Generally speaking, if you can demonstrate those abilities to absorb information, extrapolate information from it, make a decision, report that decision in a timely manner, you’re in a good position.

Shellie:

Good Trade Marks Examiners tend to be generalists, so we generally have a very broad general knowledge and a broad range of experience and that all works with the job. It’s quite useful to have somebody who has a broad range of experiences.

Anupa:

Next question is from Arianne. Will your assessment of our written responses be expected to address the given values in the pertinent capability framework between the two paragraphs or will we be expected to address the full set in each of the two responses? So the response to that.

Barnaby:

In terms of the application, the first one we are just looking for generally an explanation of how your skills and knowledge will be relevant to the role and referring to the job capabilities and the description of the role in the job documentation is going to be valuable there. In terms of the second question, I think we are generally looking just an outline of achievements. It doesn’t necessarily have to be so closely matched with the job capabilities but if you can match it to the job capabilities that might be beneficial.

Anupa:

Next question from Vildana, “If moving from a higher APS substantive level or pay scale is there room to negotiate salary?”

Shellie:

Once we get to the offers stage, there may be room to negotiate salary. At this point we cannot say definitely yes there is and at what level you can negotiate that salary, but that’s something that we’re aware of that some people who come in at a higher level. So that will be a negotiation between us, between the Assistant General Manager who’s running this and HR. So we can’t guarantee anything, but I think depending on how you go at that stage, there may be some room to wiggle there.

Anupa:

The next question is from Vildana, “Sorry to double up, are there additional mentoring programs, learning and development opportunities etc.?”

Shellie:

All sorts. We have lots of different programs at IP Australia. We actually do have some official mentoring programs run through some of our groups. We have an Inspire program which is a woman in the workplace program. We do offer less formal mentoring, we do…

Jessie:

We get a lot through training as well.

Shellie:

There’s lots. And also once you come out of the training into exam, there’s any number of opportunities for you to put your hand up to do things. We always have some kinds of working groups, or projects or…

Jessie:

Even conferences and seminars you can attend that’s open to a range of examiners to apply for.

Shellie:

Continuous technical training is going to become a much bigger thing is trade marks, so we will be encouraging people once they hit their full delegation to actually continue with their technical training by putting their hands up for these seminars and attending all sorts of things. So there are definitely chances to do all of those things.

Barnaby:

We have a strong focus on career development. I think once you are out of training and in a position where you can potentially move into some provision roles, we have a variety of leadership courses that we offer as well.

Anupa:

So apparently Andrew’s sound went off at this time, he just wants to know “when the position starts?”

Shellie:

Mid-November.

Anupa:

“And when we expect interviews to take place?”

Shellie:

Okay so the positions will start around mid-November. Our interviews we’ve got pencilled in for the second week of September.

Jessie:

It’s around mid-September.

Shellie:

It’s around mid-September till the end of September. So we haven’t got anything absolutely concrete, but those are the dates that we’re working towards.

Barnaby:

So it’s a large intake, so the interview process will take a while. So it will be a two-three week period around about September.

Anupa:

Jade has a question, “I haven’t worked in the APS before, what are the hours like? I have young children.”

Barnaby:

At the moment, IP Australia uses a method called flex time, so generally speaking you are required to work seven hours and twenty-one minutes per day and that can be made up within a timeframe of 7 to 7, so 7am to 7pm. Now, during training there is a requirement that you are here for certain hours. Particularly early on, you will be going through with a group of other Trainees and we require you for certain Learning Communities and certain face-to-face teaching environments, things like that. But, generally early on, we require you to keep relatively standard hours which operate around about 8:30-9 to around about 4:30-5. Relatively, we will allow you to move on to take advantage of those flexible times so you can do seven hours and twenty-one minutes within that period of 7-7 and make it up over certain days.

Anupa:

So Arianne has a question about the office dress culture, she is asking if “what we are all currently wearing is a good indicator of the office dress culture?”

Barnaby:

Yeah I think so. Business casual. We don’t require ties. We don’t meet customers so we can keep it slightly more casual but it’s not a tracksuit, t-shirt situation.

Shellie:

Yeah, no pyjamas.

Can I put you [Alex] on the spot?

Alex:

Sure.

Shellie:

Do you want to have a general chat to people about what it’s like from the time you come in as a Trainee? Just to let them know what to expect.

Alex:

Yeah sure. So maybe I’ll start off with just a general day to day. So for me, as a Trainee, most days are focused around learning different principles and stuff from the Trade Mark Act and just practices in the office. So that might entail something like worked examples and then with that, generally, you’ll get feedback and that might be in the form of through your coach or something like a Learning Community which is basically like a face-to-face session which is generally my afternoons. So for the time being, it’s been lots of worked examples, I suppose. I guess more generally, when I started it was a couple of weeks of onboarding and getting used to the role of an APS member, so for someone new to the workforce I suppose that was very helpful to get a feel for that and then from then on it was very trade mark orientated.

Shellie:

So we don’t assume any prior knowledge at all in the role. So when you come into the job, if you have not worked in the public service before, that’s fine. We basically have a whole period of time where we teach you about the public service, we teach you about the codes of conduct, we teach you about the expectations that we have of you as an employee in the public service. So don’t be afraid that we will just expect this stuff of you without telling you. We do give you all of that information up front.

Barnaby:

We also have an opportunity to recognise any prior learning that you may have. So if you have skills that are relevant to any of the competencies that you are expected to meet in Stage 1, you will be given the opportunity have that prior learning recognised.

Anupa:

“Once Examiners get full delegation, how independent are they?”

Barnaby:

Once you’re fully delegated there will be some level of supervision of course, but generally speaking you will be sending out reports based on your knowledge and proving trade marks based on your own expertise. Now, of course generally speaking, as would be expected, there is an auditing process. We have internal quality checks. So, while you won’t be completely independent and there will be a lot of support for you, but you will be operating relatively autonomously.

Shellie:

There’s also ongoing training, ongoing consistency exercises where we just do a temperature test of how everyone across exam is going. Because this is all product for the public, so we have to make sure everything is absolutely schmick when we send it out. So we do have ongoing training, coaching, testing, auditing, that sort of thing. But it is not onerous at all and you are quite independent in terms of how you work and hopefully once you’ve got full delegation, where you work and when you work.

Anupa:

There’s a question, “Do you have to speak to customers a lot?”

Shellie:

Okay, so we do get customer phone calls. Because we have quite a high percentage of self-filers, so people who don’t go through attorney firms who try to do it themselves, it’s a fairly simple process to follow, so we do get a lot of people, small business owners, individuals who do it themselves, the concepts can be a little tricky for them so a lot of times they will give you a call and just ask you to talk it through. We also have a process called TM Headstart which is actually a kind of assessment before filing. So they can put in a request, the examiner will do the assessment and then most of the time give them a call and actually talk them through it. So there is a bit of customer contact, we also get phone call from Attorneys. So the Attorneys dealing with someone will give us a call and talk to us about various things. So even though it’s not essentially a face-to-face customer service role, the customers are definitely our priority and our target. We do try and engage with them quite a bit and they will call you up. They will call you up and just ask you questions.

Anupa:

I was just wondering whether we want to talk about the kind of decisions we make in examination.

Barnaby:

Sure, basically speaking, two of the major decisions we look at in terms of the trade mark are, 1. Can it operate as a trade mark? What I mean by that is, is it something that another trader would think to use in their ordinary course of business? Because if we grant a trade mark right, we grant a right someone can use to the exclusion of all other people. So if we were to register a trade mark for the word soap and the person sought protection for the goods for goods soap, that is something that we obviously in the first instance wouldn’t allow because it’s reasonable to expect that other traders would refer to their soap goods as soap. So of course we are not going to make that decision. The second most common decision that we make is, is a trade mark similar another trade mark that has also been registered that exists in the database already? That happens occasionally. Trade marks don’t necessarily have to be identical for it to be considered similar. So we need to make an assessment as to whether there is a danger that one consumer familiar with an earlier trade mark on our register, would be confused when confronted with the trade mark we are accessing at the moment. They are the two main decisions that we make day to day. We also look at a lot of different things about the general formalities of the trade mark, is the owner name correct? The goods and services that people list and want protection for, are they clear? Can people make a reasonable assessment as to what the scope of that application is? So they’re the main things that we look at. We also look at a variety of different things about deception and confusion in the marketplace and things that might relate to prescribed science and our requirements under International legislation, but those are less common. The two main things are: Can it operate as a trade mark and does there exist something already on the register that would be considered too similar and consumers might be confused in the marketplace? They’re our two main decisions.

Anupa:

Andrew has a question about whether the interviews are standardised.  “Does everyone get similar questions?”

Barnaby:

There’ll be a core group of questions.  If we need to expand on those questions to flesh out your answer or to expand on certain points, we will ask additional questions.  There will be a core set of questions though but all questions may not necessarily be identical for all candidates.

Anupa:

“And what is expected from referees?”, another question from Andrew.

Shellie:

Our referee is an online system called Xref and I think there are 5 questions.

Jessie:

Five or six questions.

Shellie:

They are largely behavioural, so they’re kind of largely asking how you went in your previous job in various things.  I think the previous one had 12, and so we’ve understood that that’s a bit onerous for your referee, so we’ve broken them down to 5 questions basically about how you were going in your previous job.

Anupa:

Andrew is asking “Are referees always used?”

Shellie:

I think generally we just use referees at the end when we’ve got an idea of a person and when we think that person is suitable.  Just to make sure that we’re on the right track.  I think, pretty much, we’ll generally use the referees.  And it really is just a checking mechanism for us.

Anupa:

Liam has asked “How many referees would be sufficient?”

Barnaby:

I’m not sure what the job document says, I think at least 1, but we’re required to list 2.  But if there’s an issue with that, we’d be happy to look at it.

Anupa:

Andrew’s question “Are they used to merely confirm previous results?  Or to add to an application?” 

Barnaby:

I think we’re more interested in certain behaviours, attendance, your ability to work in a team, things like that.  So in terms of verifying your achievements, we may use referees for that.  But our Xref questions are focused more around your behaviour.

Anupa:

A question from Andrew, “How many interviews would normally be conducted?”

Shellie:

If we want to have 20 people, we would usually conduct around 50 interviews, maybe more.

Anupa:

Jade has a question, “Is examination more an individual job or a team job?”

Barnaby:

It has the appearance of an individual job, I would say.   Your work goes out under your name.  But we do work within a team here.  I think the best trade mark examiners are people who can operate within a team and effectively work with other people, bounce ideas off each other, use the thoughts and inputs from other people to more effectively do their job.  The work would generally go out under your name so, like I said, it has the appearance of being an individual job but you will be working within teams quite closely.

Shellie:

Particularly as a trainee, consultation is a really important thing.  Especially when you first come up into exam, you’re surrounded by really experienced examiners most of the time.  So it’s always a really good way to bounce ideas off everybody and to get everybody’s input.  So we do like people who are able to work in a team and to interact in a team environment.

Anupa:

Andrew has a question about whether Austudy is available to trainees.

Barnaby:

We do offer, if you can demonstrate to us that you’re undertaking employment [study] that is relevant to your role, that is something that we can look at and provide assistance with.  We probably would need to see its relevance and have it relevant to the job that you’re doing.  But we would be willing to assist in certain areas there.  Early on it training, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s available early on it training unless we could clearly demonstrate a reason for it.  I think that’s something that would become available once you’ve completed your training program.

Shellie:

Especially considering that the first couple of stages of training are fairly intense, you’d be expected to be in the office and you’d be expected to be engaging in that training for the majority of the time.  Generally, we’ve said to people in the past that once you’ve hit delegation, yes, we can do that.  It’s quite rare that a trainee will have it in the early stages but it’s certainly something that is negotiable.

Barnaby:

Examples of people undertaking some additional training that we’ve provided assistance with are people who have done a Masters of Intellectual Property, if they’re law graduates or have gone for trade mark attorney qualifications; we’ve assisted in those situations.  Typically, the assistance has been provided to trade mark examiners who have completed their training program.

Anupa:

Arianne has a question which we may need to clarify.  She’s asking “Would the second half of my ANU law degree likely be considered relevant?”  Not sure what second half of that means.

Barnaby:

If you have a partially completed law degree, if you could link some of your achievements within that process to any of the job capabilities, we’d certainly look at it.  Of course, in terms of our discussion of your achievements, that might be the place for it in terms of your application, if of course those achievements were relevant to the role.

Anupa:

She [Arianne] meant “to be supported once delegation has been achieved”.

Shellie:

Once delegation has been achieved, it’s much more likely that you’ll get approved for Studybank.

Barnaby:

Potentially, yes.  Of course, everything is assessed on its individual merits for those things and we do need to see some sort of return on investment, so to speak.  So it would need to be somewhat relevant to your job role.  And a Bachelor of Law potentially would be.

Anupa:

Andrew has a question about whether we require academic records.

Barnaby:

Typically not.  We don’t require transcripts.  Generally speaking, if you did really well, you could list that under Achievements, but we don’t necessarily request transcripts.

Shellie:

Tertiary qualifications are desirable but not essential, so it’s not a requirement.

We’re coming to the end, I think it’s a couple of minutes.  Does anybody have any last minute questions they’d like to send through and ask us before we say goodnight?

Barnaby:

For everyone out there, my number is listed on the job documentation as the contact officer.  If you do have an additional question after this webinar, feel free to give me a call and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you do have.

Shellie:

Awesome.  Thanks everybody, thank you for joining us.  Again, if you have any questions, contact Barnaby.  And again, if you need a link to this, this will be recorded and the email address is there so if you’d like a link or want to listen to it again to get any clarification, certainly send in an email and we can send you that.  And apart from that, if nobody else has any questions, thank you to everybody, thanks for calling in.  And hopefully we’ll see you later.

 

Last updated: 
Wednesday, August 15, 2018