Australia and New Zealand has been a roller coaster for IP professionals over the past decade and more change can be expected, according to our Featured Member of the Month, Andrew Scott, a partner at the firm of James & Wells in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“The profession in Australia and New Zealand has undergone significant change in the past 10 years with the introduction of stock exchange listed companies acquiring pre-existing IP firms.
“In that process, IP attorneys have moved on and firms that had survived for over 100 years have been dissolved. Firms have consolidated, and others have fragmented.
“Throughout that time, IP attorneys have lost and gained new opportunities, as clients look for quality of service, consistency, and value for money, while also minimising exposure to conflicts of interest.
“Over the next few years, we are likely to continue to see further change in the Australian and New Zealand market as firms look to reduce their staffing overheads to meet shareholder expectations, and IP attorneys continue to look for supportive work environments.”
Andrew joined James & Wells, one of Australasia’s largest privately owned IP law firms, in 2014.
Previously he spent eight years at another leading Australian IP firm, Davies Collison Cave.
Andrew’s education and qualifications include a BSc from the University of Sydney, a PhD in Chemistry from the Australian National University and a Master of Intellectual Property Law from the University of Melbourne.
ADDING VALUE TO CLIENTS
Clearly, during this tumultuous period in the regional IP profession, focusing on client value and satisfaction has been even more crucial than usual.
Andrew says that his firm pride themselves on being easy to work with:
“Having people based both in Australia – in Melbourne and Brisbane – and across New Zealand, we pride ourselves on being adaptive and responsive, providing pragmatic advice and recommending a course of action rather than just providing options.”
Expanding on best practices at James & Wells, Andrew adds:
“When engaged by overseas associates pursuing protection in Australia or New Zealand, we ensure that the best James & Wells attorney is assigned to the case from the time of filing the application. Our associates find it helpful knowing who is acting on their behalf from filing to grant.”
Of course, winning cases for clients also helps!
As Andrew recounts:
“I have been fortunate to have been involved in a significant number of contentious proceedings, particularly in Australia.
“Often those proceedings do not end by going to trial and instead reach a commercial settlement on terms that are more meaningful to both parties than any legal resolution could have been.
“In one recent example, the two parties were able to resolve their disagreement far more quickly and cheaply than could have been achieved otherwise after we provided pragmatic advice in relation to the prospects of success and the likely timeline to resolution.
“Layered into that settlement discussion was the need to satisfy the recently expanded competition law provisions in Australia.”
Overall, Andrew reflects that his own greatest satisfaction from his career as an IP attorney is in the challenge of working with clients to distil the IP and commercial value from their research and development programmes:
“Particularly where that process requires a multi-faceted approach to capturing the value. Seeing investors recognise that value is particularly satisfying.”
VALUE OF FICPI MEMBERSHIP
Andrew’s journey with FICPI is only just beginning – he joined as recently as 2022. However, he is very clear on the value of FICPI membership to himself and other independent IP attorneys:
“While there are a number of important global organisations that seek to advance the awareness and significance of IP, FICPI’s specific focus on IP attorneys in private practice means that its collective wisdom is always relevant to me.”
FINAL WORD - OUTSIDE OF WORK
It is always intriguing to learn more about our FICPI global colleagues and what they get up to when not hard at work dealing with important IP matters.
When not at work navigating the stormy waters of the IP world and winning cases for clients, Andrew is a family man, spending time with his wife and two children orienteering, skiing, tramping, climbing and cycling.
And if he had not become a patent attorney?
“I would still be a research scientist, or perhaps even a cartographer - surrounded by maps from all over the world.”