Independent patent attorneys

3 May 2019

We remain proudly independent patent attorneys. We reflect on the recent turmoil in the Australian patent and trade mark attorney market.

The Australian market was once dominated by partnerships in competition to each other. The partnerships were controlled by attorneys dedicated to excellence as much as to their immediate financial interests.

In a few short years, these partnerships have assumed corporate identities and have been absorbed into ever larger publicly-listed corporate holding companies beholden to stock holders. At the time of writing a hostile takeover is underway that will leave two holding companies controlling 65% of the Australian patent attorneys market.

Unsurprisingly these changes have been accompanied by an exodus of the most senior partners and a slow bleed of talent from these new corporate entities. This, in conjunction with price-to-earnings ratios in the thirties, suggests that further turmoil is not too far away.

Naturally this agglomeration leads to the potential for conflicts of interest and, in our view, the present situation is far from ideal. The new corporate entities emphasise their independence from their cousins under the same corporate umbrella. The following is lifted from one company’s website:

[XXX] Patent Attorneys is an independent, top tier, Australian based, private incorporated registered attorney firm and a member of the [XXX] Group. For more information please visit [XXX] IP.

Whilst these entities emphasise their independence, and see nothing inherently wrong in two such cousins acting for direct competitors, we see examples of supposedly-independent cousins moving into the same building as each other, offering combined training sessions to their staff, and pursuing marketing strategies that suggest coordination rather than competition.

We have rejected every approach and have happily stayed out of the fray. We remain proudly independent, focused on our clients, and focused on providing inspired advice and service that delights.

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