James & Wells expands to Australia with Brisbane acquisition

The bullish firm takes a shot at the large listed IP holding companies it’s going up against

James & Wells expands to Australia with Brisbane acquisition

James & Wells has crossed the Tasman and opened its doors in Australia with an acquisition in Brisbane.

New Zealand’s largest privately-owned intellectual property practice has acquired Innofy IP, and there couldn’t be a better match for its Australian expansion, it said.

“Both firms share an ethos of championing innovation and working with clients to ensure their success. Further, both firms are aligned in their commitment to independence, which has drastically diminished in the Australasian market in recent years,” James & Wells said.

The firm said that it believes that the trend of publicly-owned companies consolidating most of Australia’s larger IP practices, and prioritising shareholder profit over client needs, is a “negative development” for the sector. In the last four years, about 70% of the profession became employed by listed companies.

Even the large Australian listed IP firms have themselves been consolidating. QANTM Intellectual Property and Xenith IP Group agreed to a merger last year, before IPH Ltd counterbid in March and ultimately acquired Xenith in August. IPH also acquired New Zealand’s AJ Park in 2017.

QANTM is the holding company for Davies Collison Cave, FPA Patent Attorneys, and Advanz Fidelis. IPH is now the holding company of the former Xenith businesses, including Griffith Hack, Shelston IP, and Watermark.

Ceri Wells, James & Wells founding partner, said that with so many firms now members of listed IP holding companies, there is a lack of independent firms for clients to turn to.

“Joining forces with Innofy represents a significant step in our strategy to fill that void and offer clients the independence they seek. It also opens up opportunities for ambitious and talented IP professionals who are looking for a future with a growing independent IP firm,” he said.

James & Wells said that Dr Andrew Clarke, founder of Innofy, will head the practice in the Queensland capital. It said that Clarke’s knowledge in biotechnology and immunology strengthens and complements the existing James & Wells practice.

“I’m excited to become a part of a growing IP practice that shares the same ethos of working and partnering with innovative clients at every stage of the journey – from experimental design to commercialising IP assets, and beyond,” Clarke said. “I’m also delighted that James & Wells is an innovative firm with a strong reputation for delivering a high standard of client service and leading technical expertise. It’s a genuinely great fit and we’re looking forward to the next chapter.”

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