What led you to a career in intellectual property and do you have any advice for anyone considering a similar career path?
I began my IP career because of an interest in the relationship between technology, law and business, as well as a desire to make sure that innovators are fairly rewarded. Over time, I have become fascinated with the strategic aspects of IP management and continue to learn new things every day!
The one thing that new entrants need to focus on is having a passion and enthusiasm for innovation and for client service. Our profession is all about building long-term relationships. In the end, the practitioners that succeed are those with empathy and a genuine passion and concern for their clients’ interests.
What are the biggest challenges that SMEs face when it comes to patent portfolio development?
We work with a healthy mix of large and small clients. We get a creative buzz from both and find that the corporate mindset helps our SME clients plan for scaling their businesses, while their agile and creative mindset keeps us on our toes and provides insights that make us better advisors. We do a lot of work on general IP strategy and while a strategy will of course shift in emphasis for different sizes of organisation, there are common core principles that always apply.
Of course, for an SME, budget is a key concern and so we provide flexible fee arrangements, use the patent system in an optimal way and consider alternative strategies (eg, trade secrets and defensive publications). However, perhaps even more importantly, an SME needs to set up the right procedures early on and ensure that leadership and company culture encourage investment in intellectual property.
How is the Scottish IP scene distinct from the UK IP scene – and what advice do you have for innovators trying to take advantage of those differences?
Scottish patent attorneys are European patent attorneys, and are part of the UK patent profession, together with our colleagues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
So, in Scotland you will find the full range of services you would expect from any European patent attorney firm, with the same historic British quality and heritage that you would find elsewhere in the United Kingdom, but with our own unique identity and dynamism.
Beyond the bagpipes and whisky, you will find a centre of excellence for the IP profession, led by IP firms with a global outlook, building on the foundations of a dynamic local innovation scene with particular strengths in a wide variety of sectors, such as photonics, the Internet of Things (IoT), life sciences, fintech, enterprise software, renewables, and oil and gas.
Your firm has an impressive track record of partnering with trade organisations such as Technology Scotland to foster innovation – what do such partnerships involve and what impact do you expect them to have on the IP ecosystem?
Our partnerships are a key part of investing in our local ecosystem. We believe that Scotland is a great place to establish a technology company, with excellent access to early-stage support and investment. Access to larger amounts of capital has traditionally been harder but we are seeing more and more moves to capitalise on these foundations, and our mission through our partnerships is to ensure an attitude of excellence in the management of intellectual property. That is why we offer our clients strategic input and IP management advice alongside our regular registration of patents, trademarks and registered designs, so that intellectual property can be a springboard for value creation and business growth. Our partnerships enable us to promote intellectual property to the local community and raise the bar for corporate Scotland in general, while forging connections between local businesses and our own international networks.
How do you expect the patent space to evolve as more and more industries are affected by the IoT and technological convergence?
The pace of change is incredible and does not look like it is slowing down any time soon! It is clear that companies who do not anticipate what is next will be left behind.
In the last decade, every company became a software company, and data became the key currency. Now, IoT and AI tools are becoming relevant to more and more industries.
It is clear now that priorities for an effective IP strategy lie with how to facilitate collaboration as well as anticipate trends for long-term scenario planning. There is never a dull moment!
Director [email protected]
Peter McBride is a UK and European patent attorney with over 20 years’ experience. He studied physics at Edinburgh University, and his patent practice specialises in the fields of semiconductors, telecoms and electronics. He founded Scintilla in 2013 as a patent preparation and prosecution boutique. Mr McBride also counsels clients on IP strategy, including portfolio management, freedom to operate and advice on how to manage trade secrets and other IP assets.