SA firm appoints top IP lawyer

2012-03-05 13:00
Chris Bull has been appointed to law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs. (picture provided)

Chris Bull has been appointed to law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs. (picture provided)

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Cape Town - Companies are taking intellectual property (IP) more seriously and a law firm has hired a top IP lawyer.

Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs has appointed Chris Bull as a director in the firm's intellectual property (IP) department.

"Intellectual property lies at the heart of many businesses, whether its value is recognised or not," said Bull, who is recognised as a leading patent and technology licensing lawyer.

IP has been in the spotlight most recently as tech giants Apple and Samsung battle over patents on several continents. The iPhone maker alleges that the South Korean company copied the "look and feel" of its devices.

Motorola is also the subject of a European Commission investigation after Microsoft complained of "aggressive enforcement" of its intellectual property.

Acquisitions

Bull said that corporate clients often have difficulty in managing their IP.

"Many corporate clients though, are finding challenges in the model of managing their IP services through a specialist IP firm, while all of their other legal requirements are handled by a single, large law firm. This is particularly so where clients are looking for more than vanilla patent and trade mark support."

In corporate environments, the issue of IP has implications for shareholders, bottom line and competition. In acquisitions, firms often have to check that they acquire the IP of company technologies.

Bull said that management of IP has direct implications for corporate management.

"One cannot effectively manage a portfolio of intellectual property in a corporate environment without considering the way in which the ownership is structured from a tax perspective; or how intra-group licensing arrangements are established from a transfer pricing point of view; or how intellectual property is dealt with in any M&A [Mergers and Acquisitions] activities; or how competition law issues might impact on efforts to enforce your intellectual property rights," he said.

Bull is formerly of IP firm Spoor & Fisher and has co-authored books, including International Intellectual Property Law and Butterworths Forms and Precedents "Intellectual Property Agreements".
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