Coreena Brinck is a European Patent Attorney and UK Patent Attorney and a Fellow of the UK Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA). She is based in London and has joined Zacco this month. We became curious and asked if she could do us the favour to present herself. Why would someone with a PhD in Space Physics enjoy working with intellectual property?
Hi Coreena, nice to e-meet you!
Coreena: – Thank you! Isn’t it fantastic how smoothly we have all transitioned to having only online meetings? I have been working with communication technology for the past twenty years and the impact developments in this area have had on the way we all live our lives is fascinating. Even now (with the lockdown) I can connect and collaborate with people all over the world. I think we all value social contacts and communication more as a result. For me, the patent system is about encouraging investment and research, and also it helps people to collaborate which can increase the pace of development. So to me, the patent system encourages investment and innovation not just in an abstract way but also has indirectly had an impact on our daily lives as we are all now relying on patented technology in ways we would not have thought possible just a few decades ago to cope with the Coronavirus.
If you think about it, what we have now is amazing and reflects a stunning pace of the development which has allowed a patent company like Zacco to move its office operations overnight into hundreds of home offices (and for everything to work)! It is easy to be complacent but I know here in the UK and in other countries there are some patent firms that are still struggling with the lock-down as they were not digitally ready for it.
Here in the UK we have had a lockdown since the middle of March – and it is a difficult situation. However, we must think of the positives – less commuting is definitely better for the environment. I hear more birds singing and there’s less traffic. It still is a difficult situation but I am glad to live in the Surrey Hills with my husband and we have our beautiful pets, a dog and a cat, and a lovely garden to help us cope with it. Here in the UK everyone with a garden has been “digging and weeding” since the start of the lockdown. It is I think the most popular past-time and most people have never done this much gardening before (and I am no exception, ha ha).
You have been working with IP for more than two decades now, both in private practice and in the industry. How would you summarise your career so far?
Coreena: – Now I will try make a long story short! I finished my PhD in Space Physics from Imperial College London in 1997 and since then, I have worked with patents and IP strategy in various roles which have given me lots of different perspectives about how IP is created and used strategically to add value to companies. I started out in private practice for about two years and later I switched to the industry, to large communications employers as British Telecommunications and Nokia before returning to private practice in 2017. I have worked with a wide range of fixed and mobile communications technology and have handle a lot of software related inventions and for mobile applications I am still amazed at how it has evolved. Not only have I had experience in house which stretched over the whole lifecycle of patents but at Nokia, I also headed up the patenting operations team and had to handle the operational side of the “patent factory”. So I’ve worked a lot with management, on patent budgets and how to make a patent portfolio cost effective, as well as how to make patents which can support a commercial strategy, on top of all the usual patent drafting, prosecution, and licensing and litigation support activity that patent attorneys get involved with. When I was at Nokia I was able to compare the way Nokia ran its patent department with the way that other firms managed their patent departments and also how they managed their relationships with different patent firms. This was very interesting both procedurally and from a cost-perspective.
What makes working in private practice so attractive for me now is partly the variety of innovations I see from day to day. As my early academic background is physics and maths it is great to now have opportunities to handle inventions in areas like machine learning and quantum computing which when I was at university were very much “blue sky” research. In private practice, you need to think fast to handle and understand a broader spectre of inventions than when working in-house which I enjoy. I also love to help clients realise the value of their IP and to help them realise how they may be able to gain more value from it and commercialise it in ways they don’t always think of themselves, for example, if they could use patents for revenue generation (e.g. by licensing) as well as revenue protection (e.g. defensively).
You are based in London and have Alison Lawson in Birmingham as your closest colleague. What are the plans for the UK market?
Coreena: -Yes, Alison and I both belong to the region Zacco Norway and the UK. We have been talking about how we can collaborate on presenting Zacco and the IP360 perspective to the market. I am used to public speaking at conferences and I will continue with this. The next activity I have planned is being a speaker at the upcoming CIPA webinar on artificial intelligence (AI) inventors (from the perspective of how the recent UKIPO, EPO, and USPTO decisions on the DABUS AI system affect patent rights). I’m planning to make a series of podcasts on various IP matters which clients may find interesting, from what is a patent to how open source can affect patent rights for software, and also areas such as plausibility for high-tech fields like quantum computing and AI. These are all topics that interest me, and I am sure there will be some input from others. This project is just one step away from realisation, but as you know, this last step often involves a lot of practical details. These days, we need to think about all the ways we can reach out to the IP community and help clients.
When it comes to Zacco’s business model and the IP 360, I am totally convinced this is the right direction to take for IP firms. When meeting a client with digital assets, I can say that, at Zacco, we have cyber security services as well to help protect your digital assets and build digital trust in-house instead of just talking about patentability. I can have a more rounded discussion with clients about their needs and if they may benefit from it point clients towards the digital trust part of the business which means I can provide better client care. I really do look forward to collaborating with colleagues from Digital Brand and Digital Trust.
Thank you so much for your time, Coreena! It has been a pleasure talking to you and we wish you a good start!