Bond Dickinson targets intellectual property growth

One of the North’s top legal firms plans to make the region a centre of excellence for intellectual property (IP) law.

Bond Dickinson partner Patrick Cantrill

Bond Dickinson, which was formed in May 2013 by the merger of South West-focused Bond Pearce and Newcastle’s Dickinson Dees, is currently expanding its dedicated IP practice, which is already one of the UK’s largest.

The last six months have seen the firm pick up an increased number of cases involving trademark and design portfolios, as well as IP disputes. As a result its IP department, which already employs 12 lawyers, is recruiting further into its Leeds office.

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IP partner Patrick Cantrill said: “From its base in the North, the IP department is handling a number of high-profile, big ticket cases. We are handling trademark oppositions around the world for Belmond/Orient Express, the international chain of luxury hotels and restaurants.

“We are also handling and managing the enforcement of design rights in China and Europe for a major Swedish corporation.”

He said the key to the firm’s success was having an even spread of resources. Bond Dickinson, which is ranked first in the North by the Legal 500, has eight bases around the UK and its London office is only its fourth-largest. By contrast, five of its six big Northern competitors have concentrated resources in the capital over the last 20 years.

“London is a massive force, but there’s also substantial opportunity to gain work in the regions. In particular, Yorkshire and the North East is crammed full with great, innovative companies as well as world-class universities and research centres,” he said.

“The only way you can get that work is to have a good presence in those regions. That said, if you’re going after high-value work, then your entry point to that work is London. So it’s about balance.”

Mr Cantrill, who joined from Walker Morris in May, said one potentially rich source of work could be China. Bond Dickinson has already recruited a former citizen of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to help position the firm to act for Chinese investors, and is looking to recruit more.

“China has now begun to recognise the investment opportunities that are on offer in the UK,” he said. “Yorkshire and the Humber, with its specialist business, technical, engineering, IP heavy and academic resources, would be an attractive target for Chinese investors.”