Decisis Intellectual Property Legal Awards

Decisis Intellectual Property Q&A for Acquisition International Legal Awards

1) Please tell me about your firm, the work you do and the types of clients with whom you work.
Decisis is a consultancy providing specialist advice and services in Intellectual Property (IP) law and related legal areas, particularly focusing on:

  • Registered/unregistered Trade Marks/brands, Copyright and Designs;
  • Confidentiality agreements/NDA’s.
  • The transfer and acquisition of IP Rights;
  • Internet and e-commerce issues;
  • The commercial exploitation of IP Rights, e.g. licensing.
  • IT, particularly IT transactional work.

Decisis was founded in 2007 by Michael Bilewycz, who was previously Managing Director of the Omnicom boutique IP firm, Markforce Associates, until its sale in 2007. Types of clients now include law firms/legal services businesses (both within the UK and internationally), global marketing businesses, management/training consultancies, food businesses, branding/design consultancies, IT businesses, investment/financial brokerages, beverage businesses, telecommunications businesses, media, entertainment and TV production businesses, the automotive and horological industries.

2) Please give me your views on the state of the legal industry in your region at present. What major challenges does it currently face and what are the major outside influence factors?
The London legal market is very much a market in constant flux. Trainee opportunities are fewer than they were, as are the number of partner-level positions and opportunities. My perception of the London legal market is that the growth of small specialist law firms is its most striking feature. They are flexible, provide a high standard of expertise and specialisation, and manage their costs very effectively. Simultaneously, medium-sized firms without a strong specialism are finding themselves under ever increasing pressure. The challenges are multifarious, including an ever-changing regulatory environment (and the changes that brings), greater competition, ever increasingly expensive overheads and professional indemnity insurance, and more demanding clients. These challenges seem to affect medium-sized law firms more adversely than the rest of the legal sector. This has led to increased outsourcing of some key functions

3) In your view, what attributes should a company in your industry or sector possess in order to become truly successful and be able to provide the best possible service to its clients?
A great deal depends on the types of clients involved. Business owners in SMEs and their senior personnel want someone to speak to and correspond with, and who will handle personally - or at least be intimately aware of - their particular issues. At the same time, those types of clients will appreciate an understanding of their business issues and where possible, the provision of a business-workable solution.

4) Tell us specifically about your firm’s approach. What would be your overriding philosophy to areas such as client service and the acquisition of new business?
The client's business should come first. The aim is to provide commercial/business insight as well as significant cost benefits to the client. Decisis places an emphasis on flexibility and the benefits of providing a personal, bespoke service to its clients and to deliver, wherever possible, solutions to those clients' issues. Results should be reflected in the achievement of the clients’ business objectives and the adding of value to their businesses.

5) Please give us an overview of your firm’s specific practice areas, and how your previous experience in the industry has helped to define these.
The majority of our work concentrates on helping clients to establish their rights and putting their brands, their business models and innovation on sound legal foundations. Intellectual property is becoming increasingly important in today's business environment, particularly given the ever-growing digital/online environment. I learned of its importance during my experience as an in-house lawyer with a major FMCG multinational. The digital environment then was not as prevalent as it is now. Essentially we focus on the following areas:

  • Registered/unregistered Trade Marks/brands (from clearing them through to registering and enforcing them as well as related transactional work), Copyright and Designs;
  • Confidentiality agreements/NDA’s.
  • The transfer and acquisition of IP Rights;
  • Internet and e-commerce issues;
  • The commercial exploitation of IP Rights, e.g. licensing.
  • IT, particularly IT transactional work.

We do not undertake patent work - that is left to our preferred and very capable patent specialist colleagues to whom we refer clients and new enquiries.

6) The legal industry is an incredibly diverse and fast-paced place to do business. How do you ensure that your firm remains on the cutting edge of new developments and how do you ensure that you are always best placed to meet your clients’ needs?
Staying in touch with people from all types of business sectors (not just legal services), and remembering that we are always on a learning curve.

7) Working within the IP law sector, what technology solutions do you implement to keep track on your client’s IP needs?
The technology solutions for "keeping track on a client’s IP needs" are out there and we use them all. However, relying just on technology to keep track on a client’s IP needs is a mistake. Human interaction must play a key role.

8) How do you benchmark your business? By what standards or criteria do you measure your success, both with regards to individual clients or projects, or as a business as a whole?
We try to apply solutions that other businesses (including non-legal) find useful. At the same time we do not seek to imitate other legal practices whose circumstances may well be very different. I really do not pay much attention to what my competitors are doing unless they are being completely radical. As for measuring success, we ask the questions "have we achieved the desired result for our client?" or "have we provided a solution to our client's needs?"

9) Working in such a competitive industry, how do you differentiate your business from that of your competitors?
By branding, by being flexible, by commitment, and my personal approach to clients and their needs.

10) Tell us about your approach to people. What do you look for when it comes to choosing both staff and clients?
Honesty, commitment and awareness.

11) What does the future hold for your business? Are there any specific projects or major developments on the horizon that you would be willing to share with us?
We are currently developing a new website, and I am looking forward to working on this project. The aim is to clarify our marketing message to our clients, and prospective new clients, as well as associates both in the UK and internationally. The intention is to combine the latest technology and communications methods with human interaction wherever possible. Without human interaction, advanced technology and the use of digital social media will fail. After all, technology and all technology related methods should be servants or tools, not the be all and end all.

12) More broadly, what opportunities and challenges face your business and the wider legal industry as we head into 2016?
Continuing change and evolution.

13) With regards to these opportunities and challenges, how do you intend to tackle them?
By adapting.

14) What, in your view, will be the most difficult challenge and the most exciting opportunity?
Technology, the Internet and social media will present both a challenge and an opportunity. Intellectual Property rights should be the main business assets category of the 21st-century. Branding and innovation are represented in Intellectual Property rights. Technology, the Internet and social media have made this clear. If you strip out from businesses depreciating assets (e.g. equipment, leases), cash (always fluid), and (where appropriate) stock, which is worth nothing until it is sold, you are left with intangible assets with innovation and branding at their core.