New Marks & Clerk chair vows to boost Asia

Marks & Clerk, the UK’s biggest patent and trademark attorney firm, has appointed its youngest-ever chairman and committed to a strategy of international expansion.

The firm has made Leeds partner Keith Hodkinson chairman; he previously sat on the board as head of the China group as well as the management committees for France, Luxembourg and the UK.

Hodkinson said: “As a business we’ll look to expand our offering to clients as well as our global reach. We’re looking at more research tools and investment in training and IT.”

Asia will serve as the main focus for Marks & Clerk’s international expansion, and Hodkinson said the firm was looking at setting up more of its own offices in the region.

“There’s been a relative decline in research and development in UK companies, which will hurt the market,” said Hodkinson. “We’ll definitely want to make Asia a domestic play for us, and certainly the Tiger economies offer a lot of potential.”

He added that the associated law firm, Marks & Clerks Solicitors, could follow the expansion plans, but pointed out that Marks & Clerk does not work exclusively with its relationship firm.

At 50 years old, Hodkinson is the youngest-ever chairman of the board and the first to be based outside London in more than 20 years.

His vacant seat on the board has been filled by Singapore-based partner Jim Greene-Kelly, who led on the merger with fellow IP attorney firm Lloyd Wise last year.