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duncan bucknell

This is a guest post from fellow ipVA member and CEO Andrew Watson. Andrew will contribute to Tangible IP from time-to-time on areas of IP strategy and around contractual IP.

As my first post onto our blog, I’ll first pay Jordan the compliment of having been so disciplined and persistent in getting this and our new website up and running.

When scouting through the blog, the post on IAM’s hunt for the top IP strategists particularly caught my eye. IAM has contacted us and asked who we would nominate: It’s a hard question to answer.

The reason it’s hard is, to date, I don’t see many people who are genuinely delivering IP strategies to the level and calibre you would find of a Bain or Booz Allen consulting product. I see patent strategies, licensing strategies and lots of components of an IP strategy, but very little joined up thinking with the business.  And very few that actually lead the business.

Inside the IP elite, I’d guess that each of Microsoft, Qualcomm, Philips, Nokia, Google, Intel (and so on) all have their resident IP strategists.  But, without being rude, it’s a lot easier to build an IP strategy inside a company with large piles of incumbent IP and established brands and sizeable budgets to spend than it is inside the small cap companies who are building from the ground up.

So to my mind, the best IP strategists are those working inside small cap companies and making a tangible difference to shareholder value.  At this level of the market the myriad of boutique consultancies make it very hard to work out the good from the not so good.  And the people to ask about who’s good are their clients or those who have directly assessed their work (like the Legal 500 does): not other practitioners in the field.

As I’ve not had the opportunity to directly review many other people’s IP strategies in writing or action, I’m struggling to comment on who the best are to IAM. I know that Duncan Bucknell has a good reputation, and I have also heard good reports on Severin de Wit‘s work.  But how could a strategy be judged other than by reviewing it and talking to clients to see if it made a real difference?  I have worked with Craig Opperman at Morgan Lewis previously, and enjoyed the experience so I could objectively give him a vote in the top.

I’m too modest to to promote our own work, but I do think we do some good stuff and our clients seem to get a lot of strategic direction out of it. Tom Ewing is my own personal favourite IP strategist to work alongside here at ipVA.

Determining the top IP strategists is a tough question. Maybe when we have a standard on what a good IP  strategy looks like (with IP defined in its widest sense), the frame of reference around the answer might be whole lot easier.