Thursday, 9 April 2009

IP practices robust in downturn

Legalweek's green shoots survey article "Partners hint at better times ahead" caught Afro Leo's eye this week not so much for the headline but for commentary confirming that IP practices have been robust in the downturn.

"Tim Jones, London head at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, said: “The decline of M&A work does highlight the areas that are doing very well – litigation, restructuring, regulatory work and IP, for example.”

"Other areas cited [for investment] were real estate (10%), intellectual property (9%), banking (8%) and capital markets (4%)."

There has been much debate over whether IP practices would suffer in a downturn and there have been strong signs that it would, with national IP filings showing marked declines across a number of key registries. However, there are good arguments that IP becomes increasingly important in recessionary times, for example, from a litigious/protection, restructuring or licensing point of view. The survey appears to support the view that strong IP departments provide a good foundation for corporate firms, along with traditional counter cyclical departments such as employment and litigation. Readers will note that in the UK, most IP filing work in law firms is outsourced to patent and trade mark filing firms so a drop in filings may not affect them, at least directly. Afro Leo would welcome commentary from IP practices in Africa.

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