What skills does a litigator need to succeed before both the German and the European courts?
The most important skill is to be a team leader, who develops a game plan based on client needs that the whole team adopts for timely results. Litigators need to carefully manage trusted individual talent and workflows, prioritising diligent preparation of the facts of the case. A patent litigator should truly understand that patent law is a hybrid subject matter composed of technical and legal aspects. However, for the ultimate success of patent enforcement in most cases, the technical aspects take centre stage. Thus, diligent preparation of the facts of a case is critical. This applies in particular to front-loaded court systems such as those in Europe (eg, Germany). This patent law-based observation is also true for other IP enforcement cases; facts, rather than legal arguments, win cases. In addition, a litigator must be both diligent and detailed, as well as agile and flexible, to prepare for both the predictable and the unpredictable.
Looking back, what is your proudest professional achievement to date?
I am proudest of my team, which is composed of talented and passionate IP professionals. Together, we have helped clients to both obtain fair value for their investments in intellectual property, as well as to defend them against unwarranted and competitive threats. In the past 10 years, we have handled hundreds of court cases that fall into these two categories.
What are some of the biggest pressures acting on your clients right now?
Our clients are feeling the pressure by the increasing frequency and number of professional copycats that enter the market shortly after their original product is introduced. These copycats are growing more sophisticated at exploiting weak spots in IP portfolios. Given their speed, it is critical to have perfected global IP rights in the portfolio by the time of the product launch, for timely enforcement to protect market share.
Can you tell us the key steps of an effective monetisation process?
An effective monetisation process relies first on a global strategy with a global team. The global team should be composed of local teams that are the best in their markets. In addition, this global team of teams ought to be able to present proof of concept that demonstrates its ability to cooperate in a synchronised and streamlined manner. Second, it is important to understand the target. Finally, the global enforcement campaign should be tailored to the target.
If you could make three changes to the innovation landscape in Europe, what would they be?
There should be more capital in Europe to sponsor start-ups, such as venture capital. If start-ups were better funded, more money could be allocated to IP protection (which is generally critical for the success of the start-up). In addition, extensive innovation is generated by European universities, which lack the know-how and funds to monetise their intellectual property. This is because the universities are state-owned and bureaucratic. Second, the process of acquiring a patent should be shortened. The EPO is currently taking important steps to speed up the process and now national patent offices need to follow its example. Last but not least, all patent offices should consider a discount programme for small and mid-size companies.