Dan McCurdy, senior vice-president at RPX with responsibility for data and technology solutions, is to leave the defensive patent aggregator to become a partner with strategic IP consultancy Quatela Lynch. He will join on 1st January 2017, when its name will also change to Quatela Lynch McCurdy. The move comes just weeks after Laura Quatela, who founded the firm with former Kodak chief IP officer Tim Lynch in 2014, was named as the new chief legal officer of Lenovo, sitting on the executive committee and reporting directly to its CEO. Quatela will remain the majority shareholder of Quatela Lynch McCurdy and will act as a special adviser to the firm on non-conflicting projects.
McCurdy has been with RPX since June 2014 and before that was with Allied Security Trust, which he helped to set up in August 2008. A non-lawyer, McCurdy’s background is in business and corporate development. He started his career at IBM, where he held a variety of roles and got his start in patents as manager of IP and technology policy for the company, before becoming director of business management, a role which saw him negotiate major licensing deals and oversee a series of IP-based spin-outs. He moved onto running Lucent’s IP business in 2000; then became president and CEO of Thinkfire in 2001, a post he held until starting AST.
I caught up with McCurdy on Sunday at the Ritz Carlton in Shanghai, where IPBC Asia is currently taking place. He explained that while he will no longer be an RPX employee from the start of the new year, he will continue to advise them on data and technology strategy. “I have spent the last two and half years building the technology and data solutions infrastructure, and the firm is now loaded with proprietary information on patent litigation. It is very well positioned to launch additional products and services if it chooses to do so,” he explained. That is a strategic question for RPX’s management to deal with, McCurdy stated, and he will provide input on this.
As for his new role, McCurdy sees a range of opportunities to tap into what he believes is a growing realisation among senior business executives that IP is an important asset, albeit one that that they do not yet view in the same way as they do fundamentals such as capital structure, sales and marketing: “I believe that we can act as a bridge that will help companies develop IP strategies to serve the broader needs of the business. The clients that Quatela Lynch already have show that companies are looking for novel approaches to achieve their business objectives,” he said. It’s not about running IP groups more effectively, he continued, but is instead about helping companies to bolster their earnings by using a range of levers, including IP. “There is a big difference - the first is micro, the second is macro; and by focusing on the latter we will be doing something that very few others do,” he claimed.
This is a big move for McCurdy, one of the founding fathers of the IP business community. It is also a validation of the work that Quatela Lynch has done since its foundation. It speaks to the internationalisation of the demand for IP consultancy services (the vast majority of the firm’s clients are non-US), as well as their growing sophistication. It also implies there are significant opportunities for others, too. That can only be a good thing.
Laura Quatela is profiled in the latest issue of IAM, which was published last week.