The following comments are intended to clarify some of the obligations that we have to our clients and that our clients have to us. They are intended to ensure that our relationship with our clients is as beneficial to both parties as possible. Following receipt of our Terms of Engagement, we will assume that you accept the terms set out and any instructions given to us are accepted on that basis.
2. Legal Status
Bridle Intellectual Property is a limited liability company incorporated in England and Wales (Registration No. 6261506) whose registered address is 37 St Margaret's Street, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2TU. References to “Bridle Intellectual Property” and to the terms “the company”, “we”, “us” and “our” in this document refer to the limited company.
The Patent Attorneys employed by the company are bound by the codes of conduct of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) in the UK and the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office. The codes of conduct deal with such issues as the avoidance of conflicts of interest and our obligations to keep confidential any information provided to us by our clients. Full details of the codes of conduct can be obtained from the relevant Institutes.
4. Identification of Client
Unless an alternative arrangement has been agreed in advance, the legal entity (person, firm, company, etc.) who instructs us will be regarded as our client and as such will be responsible for the settlement of our invoices.
If a third party is to be responsible for the payment of our invoices, then we will need their written confirmation of the arrangement in advance. In any event, our client will remain liable for the payment of our invoices in the event the third party fails to do so.
Where instructions are received from a client who is in turn acting on behalf of its own client, then our client is responsible for the payment of our invoices, regardless of the arrangements that our client may have with its own client.
In the case of joint or multiple applicants, we will require that a single party be identified as the instructing party who will instruct us on behalf of all the parties. The instructing party will be responsible for the payment of our invoices unless an alternative arrangement is agreed in advance.
5. Client Manager
In order to manage the needs of our clients in an efficient manner and to provide our clients with a point of contact with us, a client manager will be appointed for each client. The client manager will be identified to the client. The client manager will be responsible for the client’s work.
6. Provision of Instructions
Where our client is a company, we will accept instructions from any person who appears to be duly authorised to act on behalf of the client company in such matters unless we have previously been instructed only to accept instructions from specified persons. We accept no liability for any loss to the client company incurred as a result of the person not being duly authorised to issue such instructions.
Our clients are required to provide us with clear and complete instructions in good time before any due date. We cannot be held responsible for any loss of rights if instructions are not received in time for us to act within official time limits.
Whilst we normally advise our clients of the instructions that we require and any official time limits that have been set, we do not undertake to send reminders.
Our clients are responsible for advising us of any change of address or other contact details. We will send correspondence in accordance with the last details notified to us and this will fulfil any duty that we may have to communicate with our clients.
We may accept oral instructions unless a client has previously indicated that only written instructions should be accepted. All oral instructions should be confirmed in writing. We cannot be held responsible for any misunderstanding or misinterpretation of oral instructions.
We will routinely communicate using electronic mail (e-mail) unless a client has advised us that this is not acceptable. However, we accept no liability for any errors in the transmission of such correspondence, such as non-receipt, late receipt or corruption in the information being transmitted. In addition, we accept no liability for the disclosure of information to third parties as a result of the interception of such communication.
Where requested, we will acknowledge receipt of instructions sent to us. However, we will not undertake to confirm receipt unless asked to do so. It is our clients’ responsibility to confirm that the relevant instructions have been received by us in good time before any relevant due date.
7. Foreign Attorneys
It is often necessary for us to engage the services of local attorneys in foreign jurisdictions. In such cases, we will endeavour to select firms who we believe will best serve our clients’ interests. We will assume that our clients agree to our selection of local attorneys unless they indicate that specified local attorneys should be instructed. Nevertheless, local attorneys instructed by us are not part of the company and we accept no liability for any loss incurred as a result of any act or omission of any local attorney selected by us.
The files that we maintain on behalf of our clients are considered to be the property of our clients. However, we reserve the right to destroy the contents of any file after an appropriate period has elapsed following the closure of the file. Therefore, our clients should advise us if for any reason they require that the file be forwarded to them after it has been closed.
We reserve the right to retain any file until all payments due to us by the relevant client have been made.
If responsibility for a file is transferred to another firm or representative, we may copy all or part of the file for our own records. A fee for transferring the file may be levied.
In general, our charges are based on the professional time required to complete a particular task, service fees (also known as docket fees) for standard tasks or a combination of both time charges and service fees. In addition, our charges will include any costs and expenses incurred by the company in connection with work undertaken on behalf of our clients (explained in more detail below).
On request, we will provide our clients with a written schedule of our service fees. The schedule of service fees contains information which is to be regarded as confidential information by the recipient. The service fees will increase from time to time and it is our clients’ responsibility to ensure that they have a current schedule of service fees. In addition, we are happy to advise our clients of the hourly rate charged for the attorney or attorneys who are working on their behalf.
We record time in units of 0.1 hours and all work undertaken on behalf of our clients is chargeable. This includes, for example, telephone advice, reminders and reporting to our clients any correspondence received on their behalf.
Unless otherwise agreed, we are retained by our clients to act for them on a continuing basis. It is the nature of patent, trade mark and registered design applications that the relevant national registry will issue communications relating to the application from time to time. These communications often need to be reported to the client and we shall be entitled to assume that, whilst retained by our client, they agree to accept the charges incurred in receiving and reporting such official communications, together with any associated local attorney charges incurred by the company.
Accordingly, if a client is no longer interested in pursuing a particular matter, it is their responsibility to instruct us to this effect in order to prevent further costs being incurred.
Upon request and where possible, we will provide a written estimate of the expected charges for a particular piece of work. Such estimates are given in good faith based on our knowledge at the time but is not binding as the time required to complete the work or the costs incurred by the company in undertaking the work may be affected by matters outside of our control. In addition, any estimate provided to a client is valid only for a period of three months unless otherwise specified.
We never provide quotations for work undertaken on behalf of our clients as it is not practical to do so.
11. Costs and Expenses
We will include in our charges any costs and expenses that are incurred in connection with work undertaken by the company on behalf of our clients.
When travelling on behalf of a client, we would ordinarily travel first class by rail and business class by air. For car journeys, the Inland Revenue recommended mileage rate would ordinarily be charged. We reserve the right to charge travelling time at 50% of the relevant attorney’s normal hourly rate where it is not possible or practical for the attorney in question to undertake professional work whilst in transit.
We will make a reasonable charge for post, fax, telephone, photocopying and typing costs incurred by the company on behalf of our clients.
Where we incur costs from local attorneys in foreign jurisdictions, these will generally be non-sterling costs. We will apply an appropriate exchange rate to such costs to convert them to sterling and then apply a 15% mark-up. The currency conversion and mark-up are to on-cost our banking charges and provide us with an element of protection from exchange rate fluctuations.
The costs of outside professional services (searchers, translators, counsel, etc.) will incur a 10% mark-up. This is to cover bank charges and include a modest profit element.
In situations where a refund is obtained on behalf of a client (e.g. a refund of an official fee or part thereof), a £10.00 administration fee will be charged when crediting the refund to the client.
Invoices generally will be issued either at the completion of a piece of work or, in the case of a piece of work which is expected to take a significant period of time to complete, at periodic intervals (e.g. monthly). If a client would prefer to be billed on a monthly basis, this can be accommodated.
Our invoices become due on the date of receipt, but we allow a grace period of 30 days for payment. We reserve the right to charge interest calculated at the rate of 4% above the Bank of England base rate on outstanding balances after the grace period.
If any outstanding balance remains unpaid after a period of ninety days from the date of the invoice, we may without further notice instruct solicitors and/or agents to recover the outstanding balance on our behalf. In such situations, our clients agree to meet our recovery costs on an indemnity basis.
In addition, if payment is not made in due time, we reserve the right to suspend work for the client and decline to undertake any further work. Rights may be lost if this happens and we accept no liability for such loss. Regardless of any such suspension of work, payment of any overdue balance is still required.
We may request payment on account before undertaking work for a client. In such situations, we reserve the right not carry out any instructed work until the requested funds have been credited to our bank account.
13. Bank Details
Our bank details are available on request:
The extent of our liability for any professional negligence shall be limited by our insurance cover and will in any case not exceed £1million.
15. Authority to Act
In engaging our services, our clients normally also authorise us to act on their behalf and to carry out their lawful instructions. Our clients shall indemnify us in respect of all costs, claims and demands that may result from the exercise of that authority.
If a client is unhappy with any aspect of the service provided by the company, they should first raise this with their client manager. If the client is still not happy that their complaint has been dealt with properly, then they should contact the Managing Director of the company.
If the client feels that the company is unable to address properly their complaint, they should contact the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys or the European Patent Institute as appropriate. If the relevant professional body also cannot resolve the matter, then clients may contact the Legal Services Ombudsman.
17. Governing Law
These Terms of Engagement shall be subject to the laws of England and Wales. The English courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction to decide any disputes which may arise between a client and the company which cannot be resolved by the preceding Complaints section.
Bridle Intellectual Property Limited, October 2009