For many smaller organisations – whether start-ups or SMEs – building an IP team from scratch or expanding one can be a challenging process. While any company worth its salt will comprehend the importance of protecting and enforcing its IP, the act of creating and establishing a ‘world-class’ IP team requires careful thought, planning and execution.

Adopting the adage of ‘quality rather than quantity’ is a solid basis from which to start. How can we attract high calibre people, or even a first high-calibre individual, to spearhead our IP team? Firstly, the answer lies in ensuring that you already have an IP strategy in place or, at the very least, a framework for such a strategy to appeal to market-leading talent. When thinking about an IP strategy, consider the company’s commercial objectives while placing IP as the fulcrum for their realisation. How can the protection, enforcement and monetisation of the company’s IP drive the business strategy and vice-versa? In a nutshell, IP and business strategies must be aligned from the outset.

We should now consider the component parts integral to building a world-class Intellectual Property team. They are:

  • IP Creation: world-class R&D gives rise to the creation of market-leading IP.
  • IP Monetisation: identifying and leveraging maximum commercial value from your IP.
  • IP Litigation: the protection and enforcement of your IP requires deep understanding, meticulous planning, and constant vigilance.
  • IP Policy & Standards: providing the expertise and tools to fulfil business ambitions through an embedded IP strategy.
  • IP Organisation: a successful in-house IP department needs to have an organised structure, denoting clear lines of communication with key stakeholders in the business (including researchers, management, sales, marketing, et al) to ensure strategy is clear and can be deployed effectively.

Additional consideration should also be given to the use of outside counsel support. External counsel provides a range of benefits to your in-house team, including further specialist and technical expertise, market intelligence and independent guidance.

IP strategy and framework in place, what are the challenges in attracting top IP talent? Firstly, IP remains a relatively ‘niche’ market; secondly, it is an industry characterised by stability and to a degree conservatism; thirdly, highly competitive packages are required to prise top talent; finally, IP departments typically provide secure and supportive working environments. To combat these, small companies should demonstrate dynamism and agility; offer a diverse and exciting IP workload; empower and encourage autonomy and accountability for decisions and results; finally, make it a goal to give the IP team the ability to create real impact and deliver tangible results.

In summary, creating a world-class IP team involves marrying IP with the business, employing and empowering high-calibre professionals with versatile skillsets, thus providing a template for long-term talent attraction and retention.

If you are looking to develop your business, we would love to help. Whether you are looking for your next career opportunity, help expanding your team, or assistance with mergers and acquisitions, contact us today for a confidential discussion.

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For more information, please contact

Chris Adamson

Managing Partner & Practice Head - IP Litigation