Interview – on the journey to become a QPIP


We have had the certification program for patent searchers in place for about five years and three rounds of exams have been completed so far. So, what is it like to prepare for and sit these new exams to (hopefully) become a worldwide Qualified Patent Information Professional (QPIP)? What motivates would be QPIPs to make the effort in the first place? To find out more, I got the chance to have a chat with James Rudman, to learn of his journey to become QPIP certified in 2022.

James explained he joined the patent searching profession quite recently in 2017. After obtaining a chemistry degree from Oxford University he then did a PhD at University College London. As is probably the case for many patent information professionals the choice of becoming one was rather unplanned.

I didn’t join intentionally! I knew I didn’t want to stay in academia after my PhD and stumbled upon a “Trainee Information Scientist” role while browsing through various job websites. The job description sounded interesting, so I decided to apply.

The decision to aim for QPIP certification was made early on. There was nothing to lose and potentially lots to gain according to James.

“Sitting the exams presented me with an opportunity to consolidate what I had learnt from doing real life searches and also presented an opportunity to explore areas I had less familiarity with, notably landscaping.”

As the discussion progressed the issue of long-term career planning came up as well, given the QPIP being more an more present and acknowledged within the profession.

“The QPIP qualification might become a necessity as opposed to a nice-to-have in the future, so there was an element of future-proofing my career, too.”

Coming back to talking about sitting the exam, they do require you to have gained extensive experience as a patent information professional. From knowing the different types of searches, being able to analyse highly technical documents, and having a general understanding of the legal IP framework. James made quite a straight forward study approach.

“I planned to prepare for the exams by exposing myself to as many different types of searches and education opportunities within the legal department at my company as possible. I regularly conduct patentability and FTO searches in my role, and this contributed to most of my preparation for the invalidity/patentability, FTO and categorisation case studies. However, preparation for the landscape case study and theory exams required me to do some extra work such as learning sessions with colleagues and familiarising myself with search tools I rarely use.”

Despite all his preparation James still found sitting the exams to be an intense experience. He indicated that working through available the mock exams within the allowed time was also extremely beneficial with regards to setting a good pace to not run out of time in any of the papers. He was very pleased to pass all 6 exam parts at the first attempt to become a QPIP. But, beyond simply passing there were other benefits according to James. 

“I think sitting the exams helped me improve as a patent information professional. It forced me to sit and consolidate a lot of fragmented knowledge and think more about what I’m doing for real life searches and why I’m doing it.”

Summing up our discussion James gave some advice to others who plan to sit the exams in the future. The general insights were to engage more in discussions rather than studying to much on your own.

“Spend time thinking about “why did I do that?”, especially after doing a challenging search, as there may be great opportunities to learn from other professionals in such cases. Having an inquisitive mindset and the courage to ask questions is the key to continued professional development in my opinion.”