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Shakeel (Shak) Ahmad joined Keltie in 1997 and became a Partner in 2000. Shak founded Keltie's IT, Telecoms, and Electronics practice over 25 years ago and heads up a talented team that advises on patent issues in all areas of technology, primarily electronic and software technology. Shak has experience and interest in software-related technology, from user interfaces, financial technology right through to artificial intelligence (AI)-related technology.

Last month, Keltie ranked, once again, as one of Europe’s leading Patent Law Firms in the Financial Times 2023 Listings. We speak to Shak to find out what he thinks makes a successful IP firm. We ask him why he believes Keltie ranked Gold in four areas, including Electrical Engineering and Physics and IT and Software.

What do you think makes a successful law firm?


A successful law firm needs not only to understand the legal environment within which it is working but also to be able to exploit that environment to try to achieve its clients’ commercial objectives. Having professionals who have a good understanding of the clients’ businesses and why intellectual property (IP) is important to them is essential.


What qualities do good patent attorneys have?


Patent attorneys who can listen and understand what the client is seeking to achieve and then find a practical solution to try to achieve the client’s commercial objective are always in high demand. Good communication skills and responsiveness coupled with a rock-solid technical foundation are key characteristics that help foster long-term client relationships. The most revered patent attorneys are proactive with legal advice and take a genuine interest in the client’s technology and business.


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


Clients are facing commercial pressures, often leading to budget squeezing. They need to understand the value of their IP assets and how best to deploy them to maximise revenue. Keltie provides a holistic approach to IP and seeks to find solutions to help with the balance sheet. For example, for companies with large portfolios, we conduct reviews of the IP to determine relevance such that patents to technology that are no longer in line with the commercial objectives of the business can be dropped, thereby avoiding annual maintenance costs

Keltie has great links with many accounting professional firms to which clients are referred for technology and IP tax benefits such as Patent Box and R&D tax credits. Smaller clients have less cash, so Keltie offers low-cost IP strategies to commence patenting with the objective of further work being funded by external funding.


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


Patenting technology is a lengthy and complicated process with a myriad of different options. Using a specialist firm ensures that the clients are best equipped to navigate the ever-changing landscape of law and how the law applies to advancements in technology that pervade all innovation, such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Firms like Keltie, seek to provide attorneys with technical excellence in their respective technological fields, from Biotech through engineering to IT and software, and a deep understanding of how to get the best results from the legal systems in countries all over the world.


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


Keltie has improved on last year’s rankings and is once again in the top 10 ranked firms in Europe for medals awarded. This achievement is due to the ever-improving client experience. Clients and associates take the time and trouble to comment on their interactions with Keltie. Those interactions involve not just the professional attorneys but also many other people who make up the Keltie team, including the accounts function, paralegals, renewals teams, patent docketing teams, and receptionists. The desire of the whole Keltie team to serve their clients to the best of their ability has led to this improvement. However, we will continue to strive to do better across all practice fields.   


How are Europe’s leading Patent Law Firms FT Listings different from other awards, and why is it such an achievement?


The fundamental difference is that this award is purely based on client feedback. There is no committee that determines the rankings based on the firm’s submissions. Only if the service and experience provided by Keltie continue to meet clients’ expectations can the number of awards and their level be sustained. Keltie has achieved its highest-ever ranking and has been listed for the past four years running, which is particularly pleasing.  

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Continue reading about An interview with Shakeel Ahmad, Partner at Keltie
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