As founding partner of Neo IP and co-founder of Magic Number Inc, can you tell us what prompted you to start your own firms – and do you have any advice for anyone considering doing the same?
I founded my first law firm in the late 1990s after having worked in new product development and R&D in a corporate industrial and manufacturing environment and as a US patent examiner. I had also worked with a litigation team on a matter that went through trial – from preparation to Markman and through to a full trial. That was when I decided that I wanted to help create assets and position clients to make a commercial impact while staying out of court, if possible. By bringing data-driven decision-making and engineering processes to the practice of law at Neo IP, we have oriented our firm to be results-focused on making a commercial impact and strategic asset value creation. To find the best data to inform our work at Neo IP, we had to generate it at my new firm, Magic Number Inc, as this offers the only machine-learning/AI software that provides weekly updates in technology sectors, with visualisation from a high level down to detailed claims for every patent in each sector. There has never been a better time to launch something on your own if you are innovating in an exceptional way that solves problems and creates value for clients.
What is the biggest career challenge that you have faced and what can others learn from how you overcame it?
My biggest career challenge was launching my first law firm directly out of law school over 21 years ago. Everyone told me not to do it, but rather to work with a large firm for two years first to gain experience. But I had experience in intellectual property from working in a company and at the USPTO, as well as a law firm perspective, and was already a licensed patent agent. Looking back, following my own path was the right choice for me. Nothing is without risk, but I would never do it differently.
How do you manage expectations and maintain close working relationships with clients when the stakes are so high?
Client relationships are everything. We bring every reasonable resource, the best data and a commitment to service to each client. Everyone on the team offers a consistent approach that emphasises communication first and foremost. We have a diverse team in every aspect – technical backgrounds, experience and mix of personal strengths. Data always informs our decision making and actions. It is a winning combination.
You have been entrusted by a spread of companies, start-ups and government organisations. What are the key skills for a top-level IP professional to hone?
The top factors for our team members – in addition to education and experience – are that everyone is smart, curious, creative, proactive and a team player. We train every employee on our unique approach to strategic advising and development of patent portfolios, so that everyone is an expert in Magic Number Patent Forecast creation and use.
What, in your opinion, makes for a world-class patent strategy?
Data has to be at the core of any patent strategy. Data provides context that relates to quality, opportunity, threats, strengths, weaknesses and, ultimately, valuation. You can only invent from what you know; the more you see through the data lens, the more you know and can envision the dynamic boundaries of IP rights development, positioning and competitive advantage. Magic Number software has brought us closer to predictive analytics informing strategy than ever before. Interaction with our clients, combined with Magic Number’s Patent Forecast data and our team’s experience, informs strategy. From there, we can execute a plan. Moving fast can be the difference between winning and losing. There is no real second place in patents.
Can you tell us about some of the non-conventional and creative approaches that Magic Number has developed?
Magic Number has integrated patent data with market data in patented and patent-pending software. Our Patent Forecast software provides dynamic visualisation that is updated weekly so that it is easy for anyone to explore without having to figure out what to search. We have moved beyond searches into exploring patent data so that more executives and non-patent practitioners can leverage patent data to make a business impact. For example, venture capital, private equity and other investors use our data to identify M&A targets and to evaluate opportunities quickly and affordably.
How are you able to use the resulting data at Neo IP as it relates to patent strategy?
We use Magic Number data to serve clients in every area of IP legal practice. Perhaps most importantly, patent strategy requires analysed data to inform opportunity – from patent portfolio development and competitive positioning to M&A and licensing targets and valuation. Data drives nearly everything that we do to meet client objectives and create a patent strategy for each business case.
What do you expect to be the next big tech sectors to take off – and how can companies and investors capitalise on these?
Everything AI, especially medical, data and analytics. Cybersecurity is indispensable. Wireless communication among myriad Internet of Things devices and secure data access and analysis will be the backbone of truly smart cities. Electric power grid infrastructure and microgrids will likewise be essential to energy stability. And if you are not into cryptocurrency yet, you are too late.
How do you expect patent analytics tools to change the ways of working for rights holders and investors, particularly in the valuation space?
The more accessible analysed patent data is, the more useful it is to executives and investors. Patent landscapes used to be cutting-edge, but the data changes are more like the weather – so we believe that patent analytics tools must offer automated updates to accommodate the real view, which is dynamic. Machine learning and AI will be invaluable going forward. Meaningful integration of market data with patent data will also be key. We have tried to address these factors with Magic Number’s Patent Forecast and employed a software-as-a-service model in the technology sector so that there is no commitment and no one has to figure out what to search. Making data and analysis easy to explore is critical.
You founded the Eclipse IP Futures Conference. What value do such events bring to the wider IP ecosystem?
I founded the Eclipse IP Futures Conference to bring together serial entrepreneurs, business executives, investors and patent attorneys to discuss patent portfolio development strategy, valuation, monetisation and trends in specific industry areas. The conferences have run for seven consecutive years and every one has generated business transactions and new relationships among the stakeholder participants. It is invitation only to ensure an intimate conference setting without anyone pitching anything. If it were not for covid-19 restrictions, we would have had our eighth conference this October. Next year’s 2021 Eclipse is already in the works – stay tuned.
JiNan Glasgow George
JiNan Glasgow George is the founding partner of Neo IP and CEO and co-founder of business intelligence software-as-a-service company Magic Number Inc. She has built a career ranging from engineering to patent law and investment by finding non-conventional approaches, streamlining processes and creatively using resources to provide answers for clients. A patent attorney and former USPTO patent examiner, she has experience across a wide range of technologies, serving clients in the United States and internationally.
Click here to see her IAM 300 2020 profile.