I’m all about having patent attorney firms offering a range of services to their clients, particularly ones that complement the core profitable business of filing patent applications (services such as drafting patent applications, prosecuting them, opposing them, litigating them, and defending them).
Forays by listed patent attorney firms such as IPH (with lots of countries) and QANTM IP (with Malaysia and Singapore) into acquiring overseas practices are also ones that I support from a business perspective. I go through a lengthy analysis of this in my post about IPH’s business plan here. In essence, acquiring an overseas patent practice allows you to offer filing services in a scalable way (because the same patent will be filed in a number of different countries) to your most valuable and most profitable clients (overseas corporates).
So, it’s a bit bizarre to me to see Davies Collison Cave of QANTM IP offer business continuity and estate planning services.
- It has very little connection to DCC’s core business (patents and trademarks). It’s not like patent litigation where a body of specialised expertise in the patent attorney firm is invaluable (and I note that DCC does have patent litigation offerings). It leverages none of the core skills of the bulk of its business. It could be argued that the same clients who file patents also have businesses (and need estate planning) but that’s the sort of argument you might use if you’re an accountant where you have an overview of your client’s entire business dealings. Patent and trade mark attorneys have very little involvement with the day to day commercial dealings of their clients.
- It is not scalable. The specifics of business planning and estate planning in Australia (and even Victoria) will be quite different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This is vastly different to patents and trademarks where there is a (relatively) familiar system in every country in the world and the same (formidable in QANTM IP’s case) expertise can be applied.
- It is not particularly profitable – every suburban solicitor advises on these issues every day. There may be an uplift for more valuable clients but there’s a reason the big law firms don’t offer wills and probate services to their massive corporate clients. There’s not much money in it. And it doesn’t address any need of the big clients who use patent attorney firms, ie the patent departments of large multinationals. Again, compare this to patent litigation.
- Venturing into these adjunct services rarely seems to succeed – for example even though providing R & D tax concession services would seem to have a number of synergies with a patent attorney firm’s core business, it never seems to work that way (at least anecdotally). Traditionally, even offering legal expertise in licensing isn’t particularly profitable for patent attorney firms (or big law firms) except in certain specialised situations.
These are the main reasons I can think of. I am sure there are more. However, it does come back to a barrow I have been pushing for a long time about QANTM IP – there seems to be a lack of focus on business initiatives that will generate more profitable work for their core business. Obviously, acquiring local firms is part of this but also a well-thought-out and transparently communicated overseas acquisition strategy would be nice!
…perhaps when their M & A guru gets up and running.
Bye-bye for now.