H.N. & W.S. Skerrett

Memories of the firm by John Norton Haigh Skerrett

Skerrett Building

"The Practice was established in Birmingham in 1884 by my Grandfather Henry Skerrett who set up on his own as a Patent Agent and Consulting Engineer after working for a number of years, originally as a Draughtsman, in the Birmingham office of George Shaw who is believed to have been the first patent agent in the Midlands. In the early years the majority of the Patent work was connected with local light engineering industry, including the bicycle industry and to some extent the early motor car industry centered on the Midlands. Trade Marks of local firms, however, were also dealt with from the earliest days. My Father, Mr. H.N. Skerrett, entered the Practice and qualified in 1906. After the death of my Grandfather in 1914, my Father kept the Practice going through difficult times during the First World War, and afterwards was joined by my Uncle, Mr. W.S. Skerrett returned from military service. The name of the Practice was then changed to H.N. & W.S. Skerrett which has remained the business name ever since.

"Although there was never an ambition to build a large Practice, a London office was opened in about 1937 but unfortunately this venture had to be terminated due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Nevertheless, the exercise was apparently quite useful in stimulating overseas agency work. In about 1946 my Cousin Mr. Gordon Skerrett returned to complete his training which had been interrupted by war service. I myself entered the firm at the end of 1954. My Uncle, Mr. W.S. Skerrett died in 1958, but my father remained active in the firm until his death in 1969. Alan Yelland joined the firm in 1967 and in 1970, after over 70 years in the same premises, a move was made into more modern offices. My Cousin Mr. Gordon Skerrett unfortunately died at the relatively early age of 61 in 1981, at about which time Nigel Parker joined the firm as a newly-qualified assistant. Another move was made in 1988 to the present more spacious premises in Charles House.

"Although in the past most of the patent work, at least for home clients, was based on light engineering and the manufacture of consumer products, over the last 15 years or so there has been considerable development in the pharmaceutical and biotech side so that this now forms a very significant part of the patent work. There has also always been a significant amount of trade mark work and with a useful input of European Patent cases, especially from overseas agents, there has for many years been quite a wide variety of work. This pattern seems set to continue."