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Ben Brigou

Ben Brigou talks about his job

I studied Chemistry at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. During my PhD, I gradually started to realise that I wanted to do something more dynamic, so I swapped academic research for the pharmaceutical industry. I’ve always been interested in IP and getting involved in an IP intensive sector just emphasised this. I got my chance when NLO advertised a vacancy for the Belgian office in Ghent.

I really loved the first year at NLO. While I was able to experience many aspects of the profession, the greatest priority for a trainee is simply to learn as much as possible about IP law, and particularly about patents. This was especially important because I’d embarked on this adventure with a healthy dose of curiosity but with very little real knowledge of patents, let alone (IP) law in general.

This profession is the perfect mix between my scientific knowledge and legal interests.

The training is one aspect, but a significant part of your time is just spent hard at work. The tasks may differ between trainees and it obviously depends on what type of work arrives on your team leader’s desk, but I find the work to be broader in scope and more diverse than I’d expected. During this first year, I feel that I’ve already been able to experience the full range of activities, from writing (or attempting to write) patent requests over opposition procedures to litigation. That’s also one of the reasons why I chose this profession. The work is extremely diverse but also intellectually very challenging and there’s a lot more science involved than I thought. For me, this profession is the perfect blend between the legal and the scientific sectors. A strong scientific foundation is a must, but without a real interest in the legal aspect (you will get the knowledge), you cannot properly practice this profession.

As a Belgian, I would certainly advise people to work in a Dutch organisation. The culture brings a certain energy with it; there’s no endless discussing and plenty of action. Furthermore, it’s nice that you can be very direct, which is something that is very much appreciated at NLO. Even though it’s a Dutch firm, the many different nationalities make up a culturally diverse group, which is really nice.