What led you to establish Cohn, de Vries, Stadler & Co and what advice would you offer anyone considering setting up their own firm?
One of our goals in establishing Cohn, de Vries, Stadler & Co (CDS) was to escape the friction and non-alignment of views and approaches that are inherent in a large firm. Another was to create a professional working environment with a positive and supportive team atmosphere that provides top-quality, holistic professional services to clients. Finally, we wanted to combine professional excellence under one roof, avoiding mediocrity, which is inherent in a large firm environment.
As a result, we were able attract a top-quality professional team (including partners, associates and paralegals) and from the outset form a fully integrated firm with a total staff of almost 30. The group is second to none in its ability to handle all IP matters across a wide range of technology disciplines. Since its establishment, CDS has been a top-tier outfit combining professional excellence, team spirit and strong work ethics to provide top-quality professional services to clients.
My advice to those considering setting up their own firm is never to compromise on the principal issues of professionalism, ethics and quality in the team that joins you in such an endeavour. These are what differentiate a low-impact firm from a high-end one.
Do you have any key tips for ensuring long-lasting relationships with international clients?
International clients are often in the dark regarding the laws and practices of other countries and cannot always verify the quality of the services and advice that they receive. They need to be able to trust that any service or advice they receive is unbiased and not self-serving. It is this trust and the confidence of benefitting from a top-quality, ethical service that is key to long-lasting relationships with international clients.
Which emerging trends or technologies are having the biggest impact on the licensing landscape right now?
While I am not sure that I can speak on global trends, in Israel we are seeing that while computer-related technologies (both software and hardware) and communication-related technologies are still highly important, there is a growing emphasis on technologies linked to genuine needs and human necessities.
One area in which there has been a dramatic increase in activity, and therefore an impact on the licensing landscape (as well as monetisation, in general), is technologies that are linked to sustainability, including sustainable energy supplies and distribution solutions, and water preservation and utilisation technologies. I have also seen a dramatic increase in interest in technologies that deal with food security and food production. Another growing area is medical solutions and-cutting edge technologies for the provision of global, affordable medical solutions are on the rise.
Automotive technologies also appear to be growing in importance.
What would you say are the top three requirements for a successful global IP strategy?
First, the IP strategy should be tied to business development plans and opportunities, taking into consideration, among other things:
- the changing role of intellectual property from an asset intended solely to guard exclusivity to one that fosters collaboration;
- geographical considerations of markets; and
- existing and potential competitors.
Second, with the growing importance of trade secrets, IP strategists must strike a careful balance between maintaining trade secrets and protecting patents.
A third important aspect of global IP strategy to consider is that freedom to operate is becoming a greater challenge with the increasing complexity of technology.
Finally, what do you see as the biggest challenges facing IP practitioners – both in Israel and across the wider patent ecosystem – in the next few years, and how can companies prepare for these?
Intellectual property is a key currency in the modern economy and IP-related advice and services can have a direct effect on business outcome. Thus, IP practitioners require business acumen and must be fully immersed in their clients' business. On the other side of the coin, IP stakeholders rightfully demand high-quality and cost-effective professional services that are relevant to their business. In order to remain relevant, IP practitioners must maintain high standards of professionalism and ethics.
Ilan Cohn holds a PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A highly experienced professional in a vast range of IP areas, he has gained significant expertise over 35 years of professional practice, including in IP strategy and turning IP rights into first-tier, value-generating assets. Dr Cohn advises enterprises of all sizes in IP matters, assisting and often leading business development and IP transaction processes.