Posted May 14, 2018 | Career Advice, Industry Interviews, Technology Industry | No Comments »

[Interview] SCINTILLA – Protecting Innovation

Scotland is well-known as the home to billion pound tech companies, like Skyscanner, but that’s only the start of what Scotland’s tech industry currently has to offer. The country’s strength and depth across software engineering, artificial intelligence, big data and a variety of emerging and enabling technologies is impressive; and it’s being noticed. Scotland’s position within the technology industry is encouraging more and more start-ups to base themselves here. The profusion of skills in Edinburgh, especially, has led to a growth in the number of tech companies in the city. According to last year’s Tech Nation 2017 report, 363 technology start-ups were incorporated in Edinburgh alone in 2017.

With such growth and the huge expanse of innovation happening across Scotland, there has been an upsurge in the need for Patent Attorneys. We spoke to Patent Attorney and Founder, Peter McBride, over at SCINTILLA and asked him all about Patent Attorneys, Intellectual Property and his thoughts on the future of the technology industry in Scotland:

Hi Peter, thanks for chatting to us. Firstly, can you please tell us what a Patent Attorney is and at which stage would you need to approach one? 

“We are specialist legal professionals dealing with protection of innovation.  We obtain patents to protect novel technologies and registered trade marks so that a brand’s reputation is safeguarded.  A Patent Attorney has a technical qualification, which is essential as our work requires deep technical understanding of our clients’ technologies.

Intellectual Property (IP) is a key strategic area for any innovative company and should be considered as early as possible!  It is a vital area to research when you start up a business, and its protection should be an ongoing process that is continuously improved.  Each project should be assessed at an early stage, to make sure you can take advantage of all available options and can implement the right strategy.”

How do you currently view the market for Patent Attorneys?

“There are of course a few uncertainties in the UK and global business environment right now, but I am optimistic about our own business and profession because innovation is such a core aspect of business and its protection is a key strategic necessity.”

Would you advise to use a patent lawyer who has expertise in a specific specialism? Why?

“It’s imperative that your Patent Attorney is able to get to grips with the technology that you are working with.  Having an understanding of the relevant basic technical concepts saves everyone time and results in stronger legal protection, as the patent attorney is able to anticipate “workarounds” and make sure that alternative versions of your products are covered by a patent. Similarly, on the defensive side an understanding of the technology can help identify creative solutions when searching or making objections to third parties’ patents.

However, this technical knowledge does not mean anything without effective communication skills – your Patent Attorney should understand your commercial objectives and be able to “translate” the legal language of patents into something you can understand, so you know exactly what your IP is achieving for you.”

Do you think there any trends in the market?

“Clients are looking for their advisors to be commercially aware and to have a laser focus on adding real value with the services and advice which are provided.  Administrative tasks have become commoditised and fixed fee structures are becoming popular.”

Given current market trends, what do you predict for the market over the next 12-24 months? 

“The focus on adding value will continue and the firms which embrace the change will be the ones who are successful.”

What does SCINTILLA do that is different?

“We have a special niche because, as a small firm we have chosen to “go deep” into the fields of electronics and software rather then “go wide” and cover everything.  So, while we are a small team, our common technical focus means we can in fact match the capabilities of much larger firms. Having big-firm professionalism together with small-firm flexibility and friendliness seems to be a winning combination!”

Where do you expect SCINTILLA to be in 12 month’s time? Do you have plans for growth?

“We are celebrating five years in business, but there’s a sense in which we are just getting started.  Growth is a decision and a mindset and we have plans to build on the solid foundation which has been established.

In due course we will look at adding to our team and expanding into other technical areas, so in 12 months’ time we hope to have added some more colleagues and some great new clients.”

How does SCINTILLA enable growth within the tech industry?

“As a service provider, we are in tune with our clients’ needs and our flexible and creative approach helps our clients optimise scope of protection and cost.

Beyond this, however, we are committed to the startup and tech communities.  We get involved with education and we sponsor Startup Grind, which builds communities and connections for start-up founders.”

Where do you think Scotland and the UK fit within the Tech market?

“Scotland has everything it needs to be a global player in the tech market. There are good Universities which punch above their weight, an active community of software and hardware companies and a vibrant support network of government and early stage investment organisations.  Also having fantastic culture and art scenes makes Scotland a great place for business and pleasure.”

Do you think there are there any barriers to entry for tech start-ups? 

“Funding and talent are the biggest barriers, as is the case across the globe. In Scotland, while initial funding is relatively plentiful it can be harder to secure larger funding rounds. Luckily there is a strong international mindset amongst the tech community and there are many examples of companies who have succeeded by focusing on the US or other overseas markets.”

And finally, do you think being able to acquire IP protection is part of what determines success for these companies?

“Companies who invest in IP protection tend to be more successful. Everyone needs to get to grips with the basics of IP, and in many cases registration of IP through patents, trade marks or designs is crucial to safeguard competitive advantage.  So, I would agree that an ability to secure effective IP protection is a vital component of success.”

Thanks, Peter! 

Intrigued by intellectual property and patents following our chat with Peter, we scoured the web to find out more and stumbled across some interesting and fun facts about patents.

Check them out before you go:

  • The inventor of the Laser, Gordon Gould, fought with Laser manufacturers and the US patent office for 38 years before finally achieving the right to equally obtain and enforce patents covering the Laser technology he had invented
  • WD-40 is not patent protected, in so doing it has completely avoided disclosing its ingredients, making it harder for any other companies to mimic
  • While working at Raytheon in 1945, Percy Spencer a radar engineer, stepped in front of a magnetron, a device that powers radars. He realised a chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. Later that same year, he filed a patent for the first microwave oven.
  • Amazon recently acquired a patent for a modular super drone that could potentially carry lots of weight, enabling them to be more efficient and capable of transporting and delivering greater loads than just one singular, powerful drone
  • There is a patent for a surgical procedure to implant semiconductors into eyes to give humans night vision like Riddick.

 


 

SCINTILLA is a European Patent and Trade Mark Attorney firm specialising in the fields of electronics, software, energy and mechanical engineering.  They work with international clients as well as serving the vibrant start-up and SME scene in Scotland. They provide frank and practical advice about what is best for your business. Find out more about SCINTILLA: https://www.scintilla-ip.com/

 


 

Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in electronics, photonics and semiconductors in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0131 810 510

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