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Michael Moore is a Partner at Keltie. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with an honours degree in Natural Sciences. He has a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Bristol. Before entering the patent profession, Mike worked at a start-up biotechnology and gene therapy company.


Mike joined Keltie in 2006 after three years with a top-tier London firm of patent and trade mark attorneys. He qualified as a Chartered Patent Attorney in 2006 and as a European Patent Attorney in 2008. He became a Partner at Keltie in 2014 and today works across technology disciplines, from biotechnology to engineering. Mike has authored many peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor of many patents.


We talk to Mike to discover what makes a good patent attorney and learn more about the impact technological advancements are having on intellectual property (IP).

What do you think makes a successful IP firm?


I think that is changing. I feel that it is no longer possible to serve clients in the best way by standing still and relying on the experience and expertise of the past. Rather, a successful IP firm is adaptable and forward-looking. The worldwide crises that we have all faced recently, with pandemics, recession, and even Brexit for UK firms, have taught us that the environment we operate in (especially financially) can rapidly change and can have drastic impacts on how our clients and collaborators want to interact with us.


Meanwhile, the threat and opportunities presenting themselves to the IP industry from artificial intelligence (AI) and other technological innovations will change the IP profession (for better or worse) within the foreseeable future.


Clients will want to see benefits from these technical advances in their interactions with their attorneys and in relation to fees, and a successful IP firm will need to deliver on these unwritten promises, especially in financially difficult times.


In addition, I believe that a successful IP firm should be client-oriented and focused on doing its very best for each of its clients as individuals. This means understanding a client's needs and having the desire to provide each client with the service and attention that they deserve. Many of our new clients come from referrals, which I think is a sign that we are doing most things right, but there is always room for improvement, and that is what a good IP firm will strive for.


What qualities do good patent attorneys have?


First, I would say a strong and adaptable technical ability, but from my perspective, I rank attention to detail and accuracy right up there too. I think being strong in only one of these qualities or skills is not enough. A good patent attorney needs to have a critical eye and be inquisitive, much like the inventors that we meet every day; and most importantly, they need to have a commercial and practical approach, to provide astute and relevant client-oriented advice.


Often, I think, being a good patent attorney is as much, if not more, about making the right decisions both from the legal perspective and from the client perspective, as it is about having a good invention to protect. In the legal industry, oftentimes it is possible to see that a battle could be ‘won’, but a good attorney should constantly weigh up whether the ‘win’ is worth the sacrifice (e.g., in time, money and any other compromises) it might take to get there. In other words, a good patent attorney needs to put their client ahead of their own ego.


I love to work collaboratively with my clients, and so I am constantly trying to put myself in their shoes, thinking from the perspective of an in-house attorney with knowledge of a client’s business and priorities, and then providing the information and advice that should enable them to make the right decision for them. I think that a good patent attorney is prepared to give an opinion based on their expert knowledge of each situation. A client is paying for that expertise, and if an attorney is unable to get off the fence, then perhaps they do not understand the client’s circumstances as well as they could.


What are the main challenges IP clients are experiencing right now, and how does Keltie help them?


Some are the same challenges that have always been there, and some are new. IP law and the process for obtaining IP rights can be complex, time-consuming, laborious, and expensive. It can take many years to obtain a granted patent right, for example, which can be enforced, and there will be many hurdles and costs along the way.


Client education is important in the IP sector and, at Keltie, we aim to ensure that all clients, especially new clients, are aware of the process and the costs that can be expected in seeking to protect and/or enforce their IP. I often give a client a worst-case scenario to ensure that they understand the commitment that might be necessary to try to protect a particular invention. I hate the idea that a client would feel misinformed and that they would have already invested a large amount in sunk costs by the time they realised what was still ahead of them.


What impact is technological advancement having on IP?


These days, there are technological and legal challenges as IP laws struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement.


Patent laws throughout the world are straining to make sense of AI-based inventions, for example. How does a legal system that has been built around centuries of human endeavour and creativity adapt in a matter of a decade to a world where AI might be, and perhaps should be, considered the creator or inventor of the IP?


I have several clients who have inventions that are aided by AI, and it is still unclear whether and how the laws may change in relation to the assessment of such inventions. These uncertainties are nothing new, of course; for years, the patent landscape and legal framework in relation to biotechnology have moved and evolved alongside ever-changing IP laws that attempt to track technical advances, but the uncertainties are certainly unsettling!


Why is it better to use a specialist IP law firm?


IP law is not stagnant or inorganic; it is far more like a developing organic life form. It is frequently necessary to adapt to and deal with changes, many of which can be predicted but some of which cannot.


A client wants their house to be built on firm foundations, and the same is true when a client seeks to build an IP portfolio, but the ground on which IP is built can shift unexpectedly. If the IP did not have a firm foundation beforehand, then there is far less chance of it surviving any challenges.


An experienced, specialist IP law firm should create IP rights that take into account their knowledge of the law and also the practical issues of owning, defending, and enforcing those rights so that a capability to deal with unexpected (or possible) events is built into the framework of those rights. Without that experience of, for example, how to defend a patent and adapt the claims according to different legal challenges, the costs of obtaining those rights in the first place could be rapidly wasted.


Why do you think Keltie has achieved four gold and two silver listings in the 2023 FT rankings?


I prefer to ask, ‘How will Keltie go about achieving more gold listings in 2024?’


Our current rankings are a testament to the working relationships and trust that we have built up with our clients over, in some cases, many years. It is important to appreciate that the FT rankings and awards are assessed on the basis of client feedback rather than on a report that is prepared by the IP firm itself and simply verified or approved by a reviewer of the ranking body without, necessarily, any objective knowledge of each firm. I think this is why we are particularly proud of any such accolades and why this is important to us as individuals and as a firm. It also serves to show that there is room for improvement—which there always is, of course—and can help to highlight areas where we might focus on delivering those improvements.


I feel that Keltie serves its clients with passion and energy, diligence, and with hard work, and we do this with many talented attorneys and a fantastic team of support staff who collectively are committed to providing the best possible service to each of our clients. It is reassuring to see, through rankings such as this, that our efforts to deliver exceptional service while being a personable and client-focused IP firm are having a positive impact on our clients.

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