SA firm appoints top IP lawyer

2012-03-05 13:00

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.


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".

  • kagen101 - 2012-03-05 18:04

    All this nonsense and hampers innovations. Most people are still going to buy the product that they like because they like it not because another company is doing something in a similar way. The idea of a pad like device that computes things has been around for many many years, yes Apple got it into the mainstream first correctly, but surely the idea has been around for a very long time and was not theirs, 2000 a Space Odyssey rings a bell. So now no one else can make something of that similar idea because Apple has the IP and main streamed it first. This is all nonsense and all this effort should be spend on innovating new things, you cannot say that some way of doing something is yours alone, I am sorry but there are many other people who might have though about doing it the same way, theirs is just not as public as yours. What if it was to the extreme that Ford went and patented the self power car with 4 wheels, was no one else then allowed to make a self powered moving vehicle with 4 wheels because they did it "first". Sometimes these patents patent the most default way of doing things, and then the owner of that IP wants to claim that way of doing it as their property... This is nonsense and should be stopped, no one really cares who got the idea first and who owns it they generally just want everything to work the same way and will use the one that they like the most.

      Des Aubery - 2013-04-11 15:28

      I'd imagine the sentiment may be different if the shoe were on the other foot. Put yourself in the shoes of the inventor/developers versus copy-cats.

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