Five minutes with Jim Roberston, Chartered Patent Attorney at Lawrie IP

We spoke to Jim Robertson, Chartered Patent Attorney and European Patent Attorney at Lawrie IP, who specialise in IP for science and tech companies, and a new member of Barclays Eagle Labs, based at our Wood Centre for Innovation.

Lawrie IP is a Glasgow-based firm of patent and trademark attorneys that has recently extended its operations south to Oxford. The company helps clients protect new technologies and brands. They specialise in life science companies – including biotech, medical devices, diagnostics and therapeutics – as well as chemistry, mechanical engineering, energy, and optics. They advise large corporates, SMEs, universities, university spin-outs, start-ups as well as private individuals.

Their work covers patents, trademarks and designs. Patents provide an enforceable monopoly to protect inventions such as new and improved products, apparatus, methods and uses. Examples can include new or improved antibody constructs, new systems and hardware, enhanced manufacturing processes and new synthetic pathways, through to new/enhanced therapeutic formulations. It is important that patents are carefully worded to avoid loopholes. Trademarks identify the unique goods and services offered by a business and allow it to differentiate them from the goods and services offered by its competitors – a trademark can be thought of as a ‘badge’ of trade origin. Design rights protect the appearance of products. All are important aspects for start-ups and spin-outs at the beginning of their journey.

The company was established by Donald Lawrie in 2010 and their priority is to help understand a company’s commercial objective before advising on IP. “Our USP,” says Jim, “is that we help companies put in the groundwork on their IP to ensure they can reap the benefits down the line.”

“We know that our clients have got limited time and resources, so our aim is to take the load off their shoulders and help them turn their hard work, innovation and creativity into IP assets that can help the business succeed.”

“There are also various government-backed IP schemes and grants to support businesses that not many people know about and which we can also help companies access,” says Jim.

Patent Box is a good example – an HMRC scheme that was set up in 2013 to encourage the location of high value jobs in the UK and promote investment and growth. By helping companies obtain relevant granted patents, Lawrie IP can reduce the rate of corporation tax from the current 25 percent down to 10 percent on qualifying profits. A major advantage is that the scheme lasts for the life of the patent. “With this, a single granted UK patent focussed on a commercial product can give companies up to 20 years of tax relief on profit from global sales.”

Lawrie IP also work with partners to help clients with R&D tax credits, a corporation tax relief that can reduce a company’s tax bill or even result in a cash payment from HMRC. The SME R&D tax scheme offers a benefit of up to 33% of the qualifying costs, i.e. up to 33p for every £1 of qualifying R&D expenditure!

The UK Intellectual Property Office also offers a UK government-funded IP Audit scheme via Innovate UK and Scottish Enterprise. With this scheme, companies can get specific guidance on IP issues affecting their business, e.g. on a particular R&D project or a particular commercial issue. “It’s important to get the early stages right,”says Jim, “as it will help to bring in the investors and eventually to sell and exit the company.”

This IP Audit scheme also allows access to follow-up funding in the form of IP Access grants – “The UK government offers some great support for companies when they partner up with Innovate UK / Scottish Enterprise and their IP providers,” says Jim.

Jim heads up the Lawrie IP life sciences team and loves to work with clients and help their companies thrive. His primary technical fields are in diagnostics and therapeutics, molecular and cellular biology, antigens and antibody-based technologies, microbiology and medical devices.

Good to have you onboard Lawrie IP.

For more information on Lawrie IP, see here.

To find out more about our innovation centre, follow the links for the Oxford Centre for Innovation and its sister centre the Wood Centre for Innovation.