Intellectual property: adding value, creating growth

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Written by Keith Jones:

Awareness and understanding of intellectual property (IP) is a fundamental driver to growth. The way you create, protect, commercialise and regenerate your ideas is what will set you apart from the competition and give your business an edge.

The first step is building a strong, effective and lasting IP portfolio. And it’s not just about the paperwork. It’s about an ongoing, evolving approach that tracks every step of your IP’s lifecycle and wrings every last drop of value from it.

For IP law practitioners, it’s not enough simply to fill in the right forms at the right time, or to represent clients as and when needed. We also have to take a broad, long-term, commercial view of their IP, from the initial stages of idea creation right through the lifetime of the eventual product.

We have to work in partnership with clients, offering advice, support and expertise proactively as well as reactively. We have to understand their businesses inside out, to really comprehend their aspirations, and to align ourselves so completely with them that we become a seamless part of their team.

My job has evolved considerably over the 30 years I’ve been in practice. It’s farther-reaching, broader-minded and, above all, commercially-focused. And that makes it more rewarding because, together with my clients, I’m helping to generate real, tangible results that actually make a difference.

Step one involves creating or refreshing their portfolio. Together, we look at existing products as well as new ideas. We put together a team with specialist experience in their field. We look at where protection is needed, and where there are opportunities to add new value through new IP or new uses for existing IP.

We’re then in a good place for an ongoing partnership. The attorneys on the team stay up to date with global legal updates — and with our clients’ needs, which can also change over time. It’s a constant process of re-examination and review, and an ongoing evolution of IP strategies to suit.

The IP attorney’s role is multi-disciplinary. Personally, I interact with several points of contact within my clients’ organisations. That gives me a broader perspective on their roles and contributions, on the various aspects of the client’s business, on the technologies or processes they use from day to day. That way I’m always sure I have the right team members, with the right levels of experience, in place to support their needs.

For me, the aim is to demystify the intellectual property process. To provide clear, practical advice to every contact. To create an understanding of what IP is, how it works, how it contributes to the company so that everyone concerned can be a part of the strategy.

Most of all, it’s about marrying my approach to the client’s needs. Interacting with so many different types, — individual inventors, R&D innovators, startups, SMEs, academic institutions and international corporates — means adapting the support I provide to what they specifically need. It also keeps me at the cutting edge of the technologies they’re working on, while at the same time creating and developing innovative IP strategies across a range of sectors.

Our wide-ranging client base is one of the reasons for Murgitroyd’s fluid approach. We’re happy to work in-house, either as an IP team or with the existing IP team. We’ll place individual support in-house if desired, and always have dedicated support at our own premises for each client. So whether we’re there in person or remotely, the client is assured of immediate attention from someone who knows them and understands their needs.

I am often asked for my one essential piece of advice. It’s simply this — all organisations, no matter their size, should develop an IP culture. They should ensure all colleagues, partners and third parties like suppliers or distributors are aware of the need for strong, protectable, commercially-focused IP.

Getting everyone involved could lead to ideas contributed from teams on the ground, who know the business from a different point of view from the corporate team. It could provide an insight into the end user experience that alters how things work. If nothing else, it generates fresh perspective, and that’s always a valuable commodity.

I think there’s a fear out there that IP is complex and not for everyone. It is complex, but equally, it’s also for everyone. I regularly provide in-person IP training or remote webinars that cover basic IP awareness. The sessions are interactive and engaging, they focus on existing products and real-life situations. They show in practice how an IP policy promotes a stronger business.

To sum up, good IP support covers more than paperwork and filing. It covers the entire process from start to finish and back to the start again. It’s an ongoing, ever-evolving relationship between IP service provider and client, and it adds real value.

It’s not difficult to establish an IP culture. There’s even support out there for smaller companies who want to get started, via local growth hubs, the Welsh government or Scottish Enterprise.  They’ll help with the cost and set up of IP audits, which are a great place to start.

An ongoing partnership with an expert IP law firm is the surest way to create a strategy and policy that lasts. I’m always happy to have an initial discussion with companies or individuals who’d like to know more, and there’s plenty of accessible, understandable information on the Murgitroyd website. So there’s simply no reason not to get started.


Keith Jones is a Director of Patents with Murgitroyd, one of the world’s leading intellectual property attorney firms. Established in Glasgow in 1975, it’s now among the largest groups of patent and trade mark attorneys in Europe, with over 60 patent and trade mark professionals, 225 staff, 13 offices in the UK, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland and Italy, and further direct representation rights in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. There are also two client liaison offices in the United States.