Event Insight: Life Science IP
A delegation from Leaders League had a stimulating experience at the Life Science IP conference in London on 27-28 November
A delegation from Leaders League had a stimulating experience at the Life Science IP conference in London yesterday and today. Focusing mostly on patents but covering a wide range of subjects from a variety of angles, the event provided much food for thought for anyone interested in the topics currently animating the hard IP and life sciences worlds. (Leaders League will be publishing its own Life Sciences guide in Spring 2019.)
Highlights included a talk by Stryker’s Vice-President Jamie Kemler on the different ways of monetising IP: adversarial (litigation and “privateering” – the assertion of IP rights via a third party) as well as friendly (royalty stream financing and technology transfer). It is clear that start-ups with patent assignments are more likely to succeed, finding it easier to attract capital. In the short term, cash conservation, provisional patents and a focus on key technology are important considerations for any company wanting to succeed in life sciences; in the longer term, granted patents and commercialised, market-friendly products hold the key to success. Meanwhile, royalty stream financing is a smart way to remain liquid: it reduces the need for upfront cash, while offering partnering opportunities that could lead to eventual exits.
More and more IP-commercialising start-ups are coming out of the cutting-edge arenas that are universities and hospitals; Partners HealthCare Innovation and Cleveland Clinic Innovations are successful examples that sprang from the latter. It is increasingly apparent that licensing IP rights rather than selling them is a strategically superior move. Such licensing can include software and algorithm licences, as well as data-set licensing – and while universities and hospitals are well-positioned to profit from this increasingly lucrative revenue stream, difficult GDPR questions hang like Damocles’ sword above the necks of institutions wanting to monetise their data.
Another topic covered was the rising role of investment funds and litigation funders in the hard IP arena. Harbour Litigation Funding CEO Susan Dunn, SET Asset Management CEO Michael Tager and Ocean Tomo Managing Director Ryan Zurek talked us through how the patent litigation market has changed in the last decade, what typical IP investment strategies might look like, and how third-party funders are increasingly shouldering IP litigation risk for large returns.
Looking ahead, Wang Mei-Hsin, CEO of the China BioMedical & Technology Application Association, discussed the future of blockchain in a hard IP context – specifically, how transparency and efficiency can lead to smarter patent litigation processes and make it easier to identify patent registration opportunities. This will, of course, only be possible if patent offices, patent owners and companies seeking new technology all buy into blockchain as a core patent platform. Wang also provided an interesting case study of Zuse Analytics, an AI tool that has already been deployed to excellent effect in both licensing and invalidation campaigns.
The event was sponsored by Withers & Rogers, HGF and Bureau Van Dijk; lawyers, academics and life science boffins turned out in force. The team at Leaders League is already looking forward to next year’s conference.
You can find Leaders League's current IP rankings for the UK here.
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