What led you to a career in intellectual property and what advice do you have for anyone considering following a similar path?
My background is originally in chemistry. I completed a PhD (DCU) and postdoctoral research in this field at the University of Groningen. While in the Netherlands thinking about my future, I came across a position as a patent analyst with Philips Lighting. This required an understanding of the technologies surrounding LEDs, OLEDs, light active materials and use of this knowledge to advise the business and research activities at Philips. This was my first foray into intellectual property.
I think for anyone with a technical background, looking to move away from being behind the lab bench but who is still interested in technology and innovation, while staying aware of new developments and their applications, the field of intellectual property is a great place. You gain exposure to technical, legal and commercial aspects relating to new innovations and businesses.
What would you say are the most important steps of any asset valuation process?
The first step, which is always the “why?” question, is extremely important. You need to understand why a client needs a valuation. What is their end goal? This can affect the approach taken and the amount of information required. The requirements and approach taken to value a patent portfolio in a liquidation scenario may not be the same as valuing a software platform for attracting investment.
It is also essential to remember that any valuation is often less about the range of values determined and more about providing support for management teams in negotiating deals with third parties.
How do you ensure that highly technical concepts are made clear and accessible for all parties?
It is crucial that all parties reading a commercially focused IP document or report understand the key concepts, technologies and intangible assets being discussed. As such, these should be defined early on and, importantly, their relevance to the business and its activities highlighted. That is, it should be clear what relevance a certain technology or asset has to the business. At a project level, we aim to ensure that the technology and commercial objectives are clearly understood by all parties involved, through regular discussions and interim meetings, as well as well-defined milestones.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity of working with a wide variety of clients of different sizes and across different sectors. Each project we work on is unique and presents its own challenges and opportunities. However, rather than highlighting a particular achievement, I would stress that it is most rewarding to work with a client and through supporting and guiding them, their business achieves its commercial goals or even exceeds them. I would like to think that at Mathys & Squire we are in a unique position to assist our clients, from purely legal activities right through to highly commercial and specialised activities, such as IP valuation and commercialisation advice.
What emerging trends are shaping the fin-tech space and how can companies position themselves to take advantage of these?
Despite the covid-19 pandemic, there has been significant growth in the fin-tech space worldwide. Broadly speaking, I think two of the most important trends shaping this are blockchain and AI. We can already see the emergence of new companies incorporating these technologies, and in many cases early-stage businesses will find it easier to adopt and use these technologies in their current activities. Organisations involved in cross-border payments should be open to engaging with distributed ledger/blockchain technologies. Others should consider gradually bringing in AI features, such as bots, and working on developing internal AI or blockchain-supported products before developing external products based on these technologies. Careful planning and management are required to ensure that these new technologies are effectively introduced. It is also worth noting that the move towards e-commerce worldwide has been expedited significantly because of the pandemic. As a result, the current ecosystem is likely to be more open to change and to the introduction of new technologies such as blockchain, AI or identify verification.
Principal Business Consultant
Anthony Coleman is a principal business consultant in the Mathys & Squire consulting team. With over 10 years’ IP experience across the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, his focus is on the commercial aspect of intangible assets and the value they bring to businesses. Dr Coleman is experienced in economic modelling and valuation of intellectual property for businesses ranging from corporations to start-ups. He also frequently assists clients in developing commercial plans and IP strategy.