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Blog | A week in the life of a Formalities Officer | EP&C

A week in the life of a Formalities Officer

We have already given you a glimpse into the working week of a patent attorney and a trainee patent attorney. However there are many more employees involved in the services we provide at EP&C.

Such as Houda el Qaiti-Sajia. She has been employed as a Formalities Officer at EP&C for over 10 years. When she applied she had no idea what to expect from that job, and, quite honestly, had not expected it to be so nice. "I immediately felt very much at home here. I wouldn't have stayed this long if I didn't."

With her team she monitors the administrative steps involved in the process of applying for a patent. It is really important work, because if you get a single figure wrong, a patent could expire. So it is a responsible job, in which you encounter something new every single day. "That variety makes the work really enjoyable, as well as the interaction with clients at home and abroad, but in particular also the feeling that you're doing important work."

So what does Houda's average working week look like?


I take my youngest son to school and stop off at a well-known coffee chain in town. That is how I always start my week: with a delicious cup of coffee before I get to work. After that I cycle to the office: fully focused ready for a new week! 

There are six Formalities Officers attached to Team Newton - the team that is responsible for mechanical engineering - but only four of them come in to work on Mondays. After having a quick chat about everyone's weekend, we knuckle down to work. 

One of our clients wants to register their European patent in four countries, so I contact the offices we work with in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. They ensure that the patent is registered in the relevant country. 

Our team works in close collaboration. People sometimes think that all we do is chat. We do sometimes, but by having lots of meetings we know what is going on in the organisation. When a patent attorney comes to ask us a question, we all know what he or she is talking about.


On Tuesdays we have a team meeting, which is attended by the Formalities Officers and the patent attorneys. We discuss all current business matters: what are the deadlines, who has got appointments, when are which documents going to be filed? We make sure that everyone is properly informed. This ensures that the entire team is aware of what everyone is working on. 

We round off the meeting with a free collective lunch in the canteen. I usually like to pop out during my lunch break, but on Tuesdays it is nice to have a joint lunch. 

This Tuesday is not all about meetings and work. I also have to attend a class within the framework of my First Aid/In-house Emergency Service course. We also posted a message on the intranet on behalf of our Corporate Social Responsibility team in which we ask all our colleagues to collect clothes for the local asylum seekers' centre. We have been there before to hand out Christmas stollen. We are also going to visit elderly people and take them some flowers shortly. It really gives you a boost to be involved in projects like this. Everyone is very committed.


I work half days on Wednesdays.  I used to go into the office, but that involved a lot of cycling for just a couple of hours work, so I now work from home. This is something everyone is allowed to do for the odd day. 

It gives me a chance to sit down and do some of the jobs that I do not get around to doing at the office. I spend the afternoon with my son. Today I am taking some salmon wraps in to his school. They are having a collection for UNICEF and we hope to raise over EUR 300!


Today it is my turn for the post checks. Every day, our team processes all the post and e-mails that come in. This work is always done in pairs. One person enters the data into the system, while the other one checks everything. This work has to be carried out very meticulously, because all the data has to be right. You are aware that the work you are doing is important, because if we do anything wrong a patent cannot be granted.

So it is quite intensive, that is why I have a nice massage in the afternoon. I can have a 20-minute chair massage once every two weeks. That is really great and it is also good for your body. My sisters are always really jealous!


Friday is my day off. I have three children, so I always try to do something nice with them. The eldest two are at secondary school. They are already very independent; they do not always want to do things with their mother, but today we are going to have a fun day in town.

I round off my working week with a Zumba lesson. It helps me switch off and ensures I am ready to start my weekend!

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