Michael J Dansky
As founder of your own firm, what does inspirational leadership look like to you?
Founding my own firm was the culmination of a lifetime’s work. It gives me freedom to help clients and colleagues in a less restricted and more far-reaching way. Inspirational leadership, in my experience, involves taking on intractable projects for clients and with colleagues knowing that I will find a solution. People will get behind that kind of out-of-the-box thinking. It allows me to help colleagues from all walks of the industry give back to the profession that has been challenging, to say the least, but good to me.
How have client demands changed over the last decade and what impact has this had on your practice?
Client demands have become more challenging because the problems are now so much more complex and solutions less easy to visualise. That complexity channels down to both what clients need and how to get them where they want to go. It is often more difficult advising on likely outcomes and the increasing numbers of challenges in project execution, while staying true to your principles. I think that people hire me to either solve the problem with an unclear solution or advise them to take another path.
If you could make three changes to the US IP commercialisation landscape, what would they be and do you think that they are likely to happen?
The first and foremost is more certainty around the known validity of patent assets. Can we rely on various government regimes to issue quality assets that the industry, whether companies or investors, can rely upon? The second is consistency in the operation of the courts. Far fewer venue-driven differences and clarity of what is the law of the land. The third is a resolution to the tug of war over patent hold out and hold up, and more respect for the IP assets of others. Some progress on patent quality is happening, but not enough. Unless the Supreme Court or the CAFC can force consistency in the law and its application, even between themselves, it is unlikely to happen soon, meanwhile policy tends to change every time a new administration comes in.
How do you see SEP licensing evolving over the next five years?
In the cellular/WiFi/connectivity space the players with assets have changed, mostly out of necessity and the hard lessons of 2G, 3G and LTE. So many of the companies that faced extensive licensing requirements have invested huge efforts in creating an asset base. SEP assets have diversified, so the resulting licensing and/or litigation environment is more balanced. However, it has also become politicised, with each incoming administration having different views on competition policy, which directly involves SEP licensing and inherently the value of assets claimed to be essential. I think that this uncertainty is likely to continue over the next five years, which increases risk and lowers apparent patent values. I hope that companies will figure out efficient methods to work collaboratively and license. Payments for licences are likely to be more modest. If ending hold out sticks as a viable policy for competition authorities, that may change the game but I believe that this would have to be a policy that lasted even through a changing administration.
What advice do you have for someone considering a career in intellectual property?
Try to have fun – I always felt that was the engine to success in the IP world. Today there are more opportunities but also more competition. Keep your head up, not down and keep an eye on how the business is changing and where you think you can make a difference. Be a value-added contributor and take risks that you believe you can handle. I have always been a risk taker and a glutton for taking on more work. From what I see, the risk takers have been successful and made excellent careers in intellectual property. They have anticipated changes in the industry and their changing role in it. Careers in intellectual property tend to be fluid and require a lot of flexibility and personal investment. It is not an easy path but a tremendous intellectual challenge. Look for mentors in the industry outside of your organisation. We are out there, and we want to help you. This was invaluable in my career. I was very motivated to learn from others; a total sponge. I still think that this is a successful path.
Michael J Dansky
Founder and CEO
Michael Dansky is founder and CEO of Intellectual Property Strategies, a full-service IP advisory firm. Mr Dansky has over 35 years’ experience as a corporate executive and partner at international consulting firms, advising companies, law firms and investors on the valuation, transaction and strategic leverage of IP assets, including testifying in high-stakes litigation matters. He held senior transactional roles at Amoco, Polaroid and Xerox, where he was responsible for IP strategy and negotiated global transactions.