Next year London-headquartered IP firm Rouse will celebrate its 20th anniversary, and while neither the firm nor its clients are immune to the impact of the economic downturn, one recent deal in particular has highlighted how its lawyers believe the firm is well placed to capitalise on the rare opportunities that are out there.
“We’ve teamed up with consultancy Iceberg Transactions,” says managing partner Karen Fong of the strategic alliance struck last month (The Lawyer, 2 March). Iceberg is a specialist in buying and selling patent and trademark portfolios. Rouse’s plan is simple. It hopes to unearth companies that may have unused IP “lying around”, as Fong puts it, audit their IP portfolios and advise them on the best way to monetise them.
“We’re basically trying to get people to look at IP differently,” adds Fong. “At time like this any asset is important; with something like IP, it can generate a steady stream of income.”
It certainly has for Rouse over the past two decades. The firm is the associated UK law firm of specialist IP consultancy Rouse, known internationally for its network of IP advisers.
In the UK the group’s track record has attracted some particularly high-profile names in recent years, including Catriona Smith, the former head of Allen & Overy’s IP group, and Mr Justice Laddie.
Its latest venture, initiated by Rouse head of global IP commercialisation Ben Goodger, has already resulted in a couple of deals, although Fong refused to divulge any more details concerning these.
Elsewhere, the recent story has been a little less sunny. Rouse’s exposure to the downturn has led to one redundancy, the result of the demise of one of its clients, Woolworths.
“The person was handling mainly Woolworths work,” explains Fong. “We’re trying to work with our clients in terms of discounts and so on, but because we only focus on IP and we don’t have the distractions of other departments, I think we haven’t been hit as hard as some other firms.”
Managing partner: Karen Fong
Turnover: Approx £9m
Number of partners: 17
Number of consultants: Five
Number of equity partners: 15
Number of lawyers: 25
Number of fee-earners: 33
Number of UK offices: Three
Locations: London, Oxford, Harwell
Main practice area: IP
Clients: Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, Kingfisher Group, Navistar, Sony Ericsson