Michael Friis Sørensen
What led you to a career in IP law and what advice do you have for anyone considering a similar path?
My professional career started as a university researcher within the field of audio, specifically investigating aspects of the physical factors that allow humans to use their two ears to perceive the direction of a sound in three dimensions. The main purpose was to be able to generate more accurate 3D audio, and this resulted in two patents together with three colleagues. This first experience in the world of patents was the reason that I decided to go in that direction after some years as a noise and vibration consulting engineer. I realised that I liked being a consultant but that my main interest is the written part of the job. I will say that these interests, combined with a general interest in knowing how various technical things work and in learning about front-line technology, have been the main drivers for me in my work as a patent consultant. Therefore, I can recommend anyone with a technical education and an interest in writing to consider a career as a patent consultant.
How have client demands changed over
the course of your career – particularly over the pandemic?
I have experienced a change in client demands, specifically requiring more individualised services. Our clients’ knowledge of patent law has generally increased over the past two decades, and today more of our clients have an in-house patent professional. Thus, as a patent consultant you now meet with more specific demands tailored to the particular needs of the client, since they can formulate the needs and ask for individual solutions. This calls for patent consultants who are flexible and willing to offer non-standard services. Although the pandemic has created problems with electronic chip delivery from Asia, I have experienced a lot of interest in intellectual property, in spite of cut-downs in some companies.
What are the most important considerations for companies engaged in patent infringement proceedings at the EPO?
If understood as a question about considerations for companies with products on the European market with respect to avoiding infringement of EP patents, I highly recommend implementing regular monitoring of relevant European patent applications. If a competitor’s application is found that covers a product sold or produced in Europe, a low-cost solution is to file relevant prior art in a so-called ‘third-party observation’. This can possibly hinder the grant of the European patent. In the event a competitor’s granted European patent is found, an opposition can be filed within nine months of the grant. In opposition proceedings, relevant prior art can be introduced, as well as formal matters to possibly invalidate the patent fully or partially.
How are developments in AI and machine learning shaping the IP landscape?
AI and machine learning have already existed for several decades, but I see that more and more companies are forced to consider these as part of their technical solutions, including companies with a traditional mechanical product portfolio. Of course, this is having an impact on the patent landscape, for example the increasing demands for clarity on what is recognised as an inventive step by the patent authorities. It is no longer valid to vaguely claim the use of AI or machine learning in a new technical field, since, nowadays this is what can be expected of a skilled person. However, I foresee a continued interest in patents covering specific implementations of AI and machine-learning algorithms in still new technical fields.
If you could make one change to the Danish IP system what would it be – and do you think it is likely to take place?
Most of my clients are not particularly interested in Danish patents. However, I know that they are frustrated by European patent protection in general and especially with the high number of countries to be considered for paying patent renewals and also for litigation. Therefore, I am awaiting the EU patent and EU patent court as the main step forward. I think that both will come but I am concerned about when this will happen.
Michael Friis Sørensen
Senior Patent Attorney [email protected]
Michael Friis Sørensen is a senior patent attorney at Plougmann Vingtoft. He has technical expertise in the areas of audio processing, loudspeakers, communication systems, medical devices, miniature mechanical devices and computer implemented inventions. Mr Sørensen is highly experienced in evaluating patentability and in drafting and prosecuting patent applications. He has represented various clients in cases with IP conflicts, including litigation, and has successfully attended oral proceedings before the examining and opposition divisions at the EPO.
Click here to see his IAM Patent 1000 2021 profile.