Robert Klinski

What are some of the biggest pressures acting on your clients right now – and how are you helping them face these?

One of the challenges our clients are (superbly) mastering is the transformation of intellectual property from a less-understood, negative cost factor into a valuable business asset. This change requires developing IP portfolios to address solutions to market-related needs, rather than to technology-centric problems. However, the existing R&D and IP ecosystem is designed around incremental improvements to existing technologies. Engineering education, R&D and even patent practices all focus on incrementally solving technical problems rather than disruptively addressing market-related needs.

In contrast, solutions addressing market-related needs are often associated with disruptive technologies, where a new technology platform is provided. Take cryptocurrencies as an example: Bitcoin does not improve traditional banknotes.

We support our clients in bridging the gap between disruptive technologies and the technology-centric R&D and IP ecosystem. Beyond traditional services such as IP prosecution and IP litigation, our services include IP harvesting and IP generation on demand, for example in the areas such as the fourth Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things, security, software, AI, blockchain and fintech.

What led you to found your own firm and what advice do you have for anyone considering taking such a step?

The reason for founding PATENTSHIP was not related to business. I decided in 2007 to take care of my new-born daughter, left the law firm universe and started afresh as a solo-freelancer in the attic. Clearly, this was not an optimum start. However, I knew my ‘why’, which helped me to absorb the setbacks you inevitably experience as an entrepreneur. My first piece of advice is therefore: know your ‘Why’. You will need it to navigate through rough times. My second piece of advice is: your most successful competitors are your best teachers, in particular when you lose against them. Last but not least: never stop learning.

How do you expect the German market in IP transactions to evolve over the next few years?

As we are amid the fourth industrial revolution, the IP transaction market will likely diversify.

On the one hand, I expect a shrinking market for existing IP portfolios addressing mature technologies that took off some time ago – the combustion engine is a good example.

On the other hand, the ongoing digital transformation requires the development of new technologies, products and thus new IP portfolios. I therefore expect to see increasing numbers of IP transactions in the sector of edge technologies.

Last but not least, the digital transformation will change IP transactions as such. I assume that blockchain solutions such as non-fungible tokens will play a significant role here.

Which of your cases or matters have been the most memorable?

The most memorable cases are those that take surprising turns.

One of those cases was a defence of a client in response to a warning letter issued by a competitor, accompanied by a marked unwillingness to negotiate. We therefore went on to collect convincing arguments that could help motivate this competitor to agree to negotiations. One of those was a patent that was actually abandoned but still in force. It turned out that the claimed subject matter appeared relevant to the competitor. The rather unexpected result of the negotiations was a significant licence payment paid by the competitor in favour of our client.

What do you predict to be the next big tech sectors to take off in Europe – and how can companies and investors ready themselves?

I place my bets on AI, drones, robotics and cybersecurity. Unfortunately, we do not know which applications supported by these technologies will take off. Therefore, it appears risky to invest in their development without a clear market vision. The capital risk can, however, be significantly reduced by investing in intellectual property instead of investing in R&D. I would suggest that companies and investors understand intellectual property as a derivative technology asset, similar to futures or options in a stock market. Thereby, a wide range of technologies and applications can be covered using intellectual property at predetermined and low costs when compared to R&D expenditures.

Robert Klinski

Managing Director
[email protected]

Robert Klinski is a German and European patent, trademark and design attorney, and the founder of PATENTSHIP. He studied electrical engineering and telecommunications at the Technical University Hamburg-Harburg, and received his PhD with honours from the Technical University of Munich. Dr Klinski has worked in intellectual property since 2002 and has extensive experience in IP prosecution, litigation, harvesting and exploitation in digital signal processing, 5G, the Internet of Things, AI, blockchain and security.

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