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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

A Post After A Long While

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This blog has been lying fallow for some time now. In the spirit of honesty, perhaps it is good for me to review the types of players there are in the intellectual property market in Malaysia. I have been inspired to return to the path of intellectual property, even though it has been quite tough for me to command the kind of fees that I would like. A recent article at Law.com, "Have IP Boutiques Gone Extinct? Hardly" by Lisa Schuchman (dated 21st Aug, 2008), has given hope to me that it is possible to thrive in the intellectual property industry.

In that article, Schuchman wrote that IP boutiques firms continue to thrive. This was her conclusion despite the fact that a number of IP firms have been "swallowed up" by mergers with general practice firms. One factor driving these mergers is the increasing recognition among general practice firms that IP represents one avenue to grow their revenues. General practice firms are also increasingly making inroads in the area of IP litigation. Once general practice firms set up their own IP divisions, it is likely that they will compete with, rather than complement, IP boutique firms. Further, counsels involved in corporate litigation are likely to refer cases to general practice firms rather than IP firms, since they are likely to be from such a general practice firm themselves.

However, there are plus points in favour of IP boutique firms, which are driving their growth. One example pointed out by Schuchman is that IP boutique firms gave the impression that they were more likely to pay attention to their individual clients, compared to general practice firms. Further, boutique firms seem to be able to provide IP drafting at a more affordable price compared to their general practice counterparts. One reason seems to be that boutique firms rarely overstaff whereas large general practice firms are more likely to. But, Schuchman points out that it is in the technical expertise that IP boutique firms seem to shine. IP boutique firms are manned by people with technical and scientific background, making it easier for them to draft and prosecute patents. General practice firms are unable to compete with IP boutique firms in patent prosecution. Further, lawyer-litigators from IP boutique firms are likely to better understand the technical aspects of the subject matter.
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