Rules of the Association of Finnish Patent Attorneys

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION

Section 1 - Definition and Purpose of Activities

The Association of Finnish Patent Attorneys shall be an association of persons who practise as independent attorneys in an attorney agency by providing intellectual property rights services for several different clients, and who are authorized industrial property attorneys under the Act on Authorised Industrial Property Attorneys (22/2014).

An attorney agency shall mean a business providing attorney services mainly in industrial property rights, and is referred to below as a company.

The purpose of the Association shall be:

  • to maintain honest and professional conduct of attorneys,
  • to support its members in attending to the interests of their clients and practising their profession so as to preserve good ethical standards of an attorney,
  • to safeguard the general professional interests of attorneys,
  • to promote and support a sound development of protection of intellectual property rights,
  • to encourage good cooperation between different parties dealing with intellectual property rights and maintenance of good fellowship within its members.

The domicile of the Association shall be Helsinki.
The languages of the Association shall be both domestic languages.

Section 2 - Members of the Association

The members of the Association shall include:

- junior members

- national members

- full members

- senior members

- honorary members

The membership categories are defined below.

When a national member changes his or her status to a full member or vice versa, it must be communicated to the Association in writing by a time specified yearly by the Board.

The membership of the Association may be granted, at the discretion of the Association, to:

  • a Finnish citizen or a foreigner residing in Finland,
  • who is an authorized industrial property attorney under the Act on Authorised Industrial Property Attorneys (22/2014),
  • and who has practised for at least 6 years and continues to practise as an attorney on a full-time basis in a company providing intellectual property rights services.

Section 3 - Board

The affairs of the Association shall be attended to by a Board consisting of a chairperson elected at the autumn meeting and at least four (4) and no more than six (6) regular members. The Board shall represent the Association and make decisions in matters which do not require consideration at a meeting of the Association. The term of the regular members of the Board shall be two calendar years, and they shall be elected at the autumn meeting. A regular member of the Board may be re-elected once, such that one person may serve in the Board for up to four consecutive years. The term of the chairperson of the Board shall be one calendar year. The chairperson of the Board may be re-elected up to three times; however, one person may serve in the Board for up to four consecutive years even in the case where a member of the Board is elected as the chairperson of the Board or vice versa.

The chairperson of the Board elected at the autumn meeting shall also serve as the chairperson of the Association. The Board shall elect from its members a vice chairperson, a secretary and a financial manager. The Board shall be quorate when the chairperson or the vice chairperson and at least two other members are present. Decisions shall be made by simple majority. When the votes are equal, the vote of the chairperson shall be the deciding vote. The members of the Executive Committee must, where possible, represent at least four different companies, and no more than two members from the same company may serve in the Executive Committee.

Section 4 - Voting

A meeting of the Association shall be competent to make decisions after it has been lawfully summoned. Elections shall be conducted and decisions made by open voting, unless voting by secret ballot is requested; however, decisions concerning election of a member to the Association or expulsion of a member from the Association shall always be made by secret ballot. Abstaining from voting shall not be considered participation in the vote.

Voting shall be conducted as follows:

  • Questions not requiring a supermajority shall be decided by simple majority. When the votes are equal, the vote of the chairperson shall be the deciding vote.
  • Questions concerning election of a member to the Association shall be presented by the Board to the meeting of the Association. Decisions on the election of a member shall require a three-quarters majority of votes.
  • Questions concerning expulsion from the Association under section 9, termination of the Association under section 21 or amendment to the rules under section 21 shall be presented by the Board to the meeting of the Association. Decisions concerning such questions may not be made until the following meeting of the Association and require a three-quarters majority of votes.

Section 5 - Application for Membership

An application for membership of the Association must be made in writing, and after considering the matter, the Board shall present the application to the meeting of the Association.

The membership category being applied for must be mentioned in the application.

Section 6 - Exemption

The Association may grant exemption from the requirements mentioned in sections 2 and 14. If a person applying for membership does not meet the six years’ minimum experience requirement of practising as a full-time attorney as mentioned in section 2, serving in another organization may be considered comparable to practising as an attorney for special reasons. Granting the exemption shall require, however, that during the minimum period of six years defined in section 2 the applicant has worked for at least two years in a company providing intellectual property rights services and being represented in the Association through a member. The meeting of the Association shall determine for each case separately the required proportion of service in another organisation counting as experience mentioned in this section.

Section - 7 Fees

The members of the Association shall pay a yearly membership fee, the amount of which in each membership category shall be decided at the autumn meeting of the Association.

Section - 8 Termination of Membership

A membership shall terminate upon decision of the Association:

  • if a member no longer meets the requirements for membership of the Association;
  • if a member becomes a partner or an employee in a company that is not represented in the Association through a national or a full member, except under circumstances where the member founds his or her own company; or
  • if, regardless of a written notice, a member fails to pay the prescribed membership fee within a period of two months.

Section 9 - Expulsion from the Association

The Association may expel a member who has committed an act such that his or her continued membership would obviously compromise the reputation of the Association, or a member whose conduct as an attorney is obviously inconsistent with the purposes of the Association under section 1.

Section 10 - Meetings

The regular annual meetings of the Association shall be a spring meeting held no later than April and an autumn meeting held no later than November at a time and location determined by the Board of the Association.

The following items shall be on the agenda for the spring meeting:

  • election of the chairperson of the meeting;
  • election of two examiners of the minutes;
  • annual report of the Board and statement of an operations inspector;
  • adoption of the annual accounts and grant of discharge from liability; and
  • questions submitted for consideration at the meeting by the Board or by any of the members of the Association through the Board.

The following items shall be on the agenda for the autumn meeting:

  • election of the chairperson of the meeting;
  • election of two examiners of the minutes;
  • election of the chairperson of the Board;
  • election of members of the Board in place of outgoing members;
  • election of one operations inspector and one substitute operations inspector for a term of two calendar years;
  • election of a member and a substitute member of the Ethics Committee;
  • setting the membership fee; and
  • questions submitted for consideration at the meeting by the Board or by any of the members of the Association through the Board; and
  • confirmation of working groups.

Section 11 - Invitations to Meetings

An invitation to a meeting shall be sent to the members to an address entered in the membership register, which may be an email address, at least one week before the meeting. Other communications shall be given to the members in like manner. If questions concerning a rule amendment, election of a member to the Association, expulsion of a member from the Association, confirmation of a working group or dissolution of the Association are on the agenda for the meeting, this must be clearly stated in the invitation.

Section 12 - Signing the Name of the Association

The name of the Association shall be signed by the chairperson of the Board individually or by two members of the Board jointly. The Board shall also have the right to authorise other persons to sign the name of the Association.

Section 13 - Junior Members

A person who has served for at least two years in the position of an attorney in a company providing intellectual property rights services, who has an academic degree suitable for the profession, and who meets the other membership qualification requirements of section 2 except for the authorization and the experience of six years may be accepted into the Association as a junior member on the basis of his or her written application and recommendation by his or her employer.

A junior member shall have the right to attend, without voting, the regular meetings of the Association. A junior member may not appear as a member of the Association in a letterhead, business card or other such materials.

Section 14 - National Members

A person who meets the membership qualification requirements under section 2 may be elected as a national member.

A national member shall have the right to change his or her status to a full member under section 2 upon his or her notification.

Section 15 - Full Members

A full member shall be a national member who is additionally, through the Association, a member of an international organisation in which The Association of Finnish Patent Attorneys is a member.

A person who meets the membership qualification requirements under section 2 may be elected as a full member.

A full member shall have the right to change his or her status to a national member under section 2 upon his or her notification.

Section 16 - Honorary Members

A person may be awarded honorary membership for his or her contributions by a unanimous decision of the meeting of the Association.

Section 17 - Senior Members

A member who ceases to practise as an attorney due to retirement may continue in the Association as a senior member. The Board must be notified of the retirement.

A senior member shall have the right to attend, without voting, the regular meetings of the Association. Senior members shall be exempted from paying the membership fee.

A senior member may not appear as a member of the Association in a letterhead, business card or other such materials.

Section 18 - Ethics Committee

Matters concerning compliance with the rules of the Association and the questions of attorney’s ethics in general shall be dealt with by an Ethics Committee elected from the members of the Association.

The duty of the Ethics Committee shall be, upon request of the Board or a national or full member of the Association, to investigate the matter and, after hearing the parties concerned, to give a statement to the Board.

If a request for statement is made by a member of the Association directly, the Board must be notified of the matter.

The Board shall communicate the statement of the Ethics Committee to the parties concerned and give its own opinion, where appropriate, and if necessary bring the matter to the attention of the members of the Association in whatever manner considered suitable for the circumstances.

The statement of the Ethics Committee shall be binding if the meeting of the Association so decides.

The Ethics Committee shall consist of three members and three personal substitute members, the latter being summoned in case a regular member is disqualified or otherwise prevented from attending to his or her duty. The term of the members and substitute members shall be three years. The members and substitute members shall be elected from different companies and they may not be members of the Board of the Association. One member and one substitute member shall be elected to the Ethics Committee at each autumn meeting of the Association.

Section 19 - Working Groups

The Board shall establish working groups by electing a chairperson and a secretary for the groups and by determining their tasks and domain. The working groups shall be confirmed at the autumn meeting of the Association. When setting up the working groups, it may be decided that the meetings of the working groups are open to all employees whose company is represented in the Association through one of its employees.

Section 20 - Accounting Period

The accounts of the Association shall be closed at the end of each calendar year.

Section 21 - General Rules

In the event of dissolution or termination of the Association, its assets shall be surrendered, according to a decision of a meeting preceding the dissolution, to an incorporated society working to promote the protection of intellectual property rights.

Amendments to the rules of the Association and other matters shall be conducted in compliance with the Associations Act in force.