Background

Ablett & Stebbing is a well-established boutique IP firm, providing a full service across all areas of patents, trademarks and designs. The firm wanted to consider its options for the future in light of the impending retirement of one of its three partners. Ablett & Stebbing therefore approached Milli Bouri, Partner and Practice Head – M&A Transactions, to discuss market options and gain M&A insight.

Criteria

Ablett & Stebbing shared its thoughts on long-term goals and priorities.  The importance of maintaining the integrity of the firm to continue to provide a modern and efficient service, with emphasis on providing high quality commercial advice to existing clients, as well as attracting new business. Providing continued employment for support staff and maintaining autonomy for remaining partners to continue as business leaders, along with accessing a market which allowed for diversification and increased range of service offering.

Challenges

As a small firm of 10 employees, Ablett & Stebbing had a strong brand in IP but had struggled through slow organic growth. As ever, in an extremely competitive market, attracting high calibre candidates was challenging. With the prospective retirement of one of three partners, it became clear that some creative thinking would be required in order for the remaining partners to secure the future for their staff and themselves, as well as preserve and grow the business’ future. In analysing potential target firms, Adamson & Partners were keenly aware that there is a sea-change not only in IP, but within the wider legal profession, in how business will be conducted in the future. With this in mind, it was imperative to find a like-minded partner with a vision for the future that was in line with Ablett & Stebbing,

Outcome

Our confidential approaches ultimately yielded a potential partner in the form of Lewis Silkin, a dynamic modern law firm with a strong reputation in media, brands and technology, and a broad IP service offering. We recognised the “missing link” within their IP services to be patent prosecution – an area in which Ablett & Stebbing already had an established and proven reputation.

Through the merger of Lewis Silkin, a highly respected legal brand, Ablett & Stebbing came in as the ‘owners’ of the prosecution practice. Their goals and priorities were thus met. Under the Lewis Silkin umbrella, the integrity of Ablett & Stebbing work would not only remain intact but also be further enhanced by Lewis Silkin’s excellent reputation and standing. All patent professionals could continue to provide high quality commercial advice to existing clients, as well as having access to a wider market.

Through the merger of Lewis Silkin and Ablett Stebbing, Lewis Silkin gained a new set of IP prosecution clients, a well-populated database system and expertise of IP professionals covering not only media, brands and technology, but also newer areas such as chemistry, life sciences and engineering. The acquisition effectively created a ‘one-stop-shop’ servicing all IP needs, from creation through to prosecution, management and enforcement. The acquisition saw the number of partners in Lewis Silkin’s Brands IP team grow to 16.

For more information, please contact

Milli Bouri

Partner