Which topics are important to you?
IPBA: In your articles you talked about different technology areas from smartphones to skis – what technology areas are you interested in from an IP perspective?
Andreas Sætre Hanssen: For me this is twofold. Firstly, I am interested in any technology and design I can understand. Basically, this means everything but chemistry. However, my keenest interest comes when I can see the underlying business model, and how this works with the technology and IP.
I always have a nerdy interest in the IP side of products I know well, such as skis, woodworking tools, cars etc. But through work with clients, I always gain new insights and interests, be it premium designer doormats or incineration toilets. Secondly, my foremost interest is the tech in our own services, as IP-advisors and administrators.
Ironically, I find that most IP-firms do not incentivise innovation of smarter, more efficient, and more reliable services that grow value for our clients. This was the main motivation behind starting Zipip.
IPBA: You were approaching these topics in your articles not only from the IP side, but also with an eye on the business aspects of the company. Why is it so important for you to also analyse the business perspective in parallel?
ASH: It’s not just important, but imperative. IP-professionals can easily get lost in our own limited questions of whether something can be patented, kept secret, or trademarked. If this IP does not provide any real competitive advantage to the client, then our work is not just useless, but an unproductive cost.
We have an obligation both to our clients, and the IP-field at large, to avoid junk-IP.
How do you create awareness and build a network?
IPBA: During the pandemic we have seen many IP attorneys starting their own IP law firms and in 2021 you also founded Zipip. What was the motivation behind it and how do you approach the creation of new business networks and generation of new clients for your law firm?
ASH: I see two main challenges for IP-professionals going forward:
1 . Make the IP relevant, and
2 . Make the IP efficient.
To make IP more relevant, more time should be spent on the strategic advice.
I believe more valuable IP is lost through poor strategic choices, than during prosecution.
The main challenge here is that a lot of IP-advice is provided as part of a free sales pitch for an application or a service. Whether or not this is intentional, it skews our advice. On the other hand, clients can end up interpreting good advice as being an unnecessary sales pitch and avoid taking necessary actions.
Further, we can free up much of the funds needed for this strategic advice, by making prosecution smarter and more efficient.
Much of our work is repetitive, with a great potential for better workflows and automation. Regrettably, the traditional structure of billable hours gives poor incentives for improving this process, as both making the systems take a lot of non-billable time, and the end results in less billable time.
When there is efficiency to be gained, however, competition will eventually find a way. I want to be at the forefront of these developments, rather than be overtaken later.
What role does social media play for you in finding the right people for cooperation?
IPBA: We are currently seeing a continuously accelerating digital transformation in the IP system. Especially in dealing with the stakeholders of the IP system as well as in the relationship and communication between attorneys and clients, as well as networking and professional exchange between IP experts, for example via social networks such as LinkedIn. How do you perceive this trend and what role does LinkedIn play in your networking activities?
ASH: Even with the growing importance of IP, it is still a niche subject. When further narrowing your scope to forward-thinking IP-attorneys and -clients looking to transform how we do IP, you are looking at a niche within a niche. If I was to further narrow this scope to people working in Norway, then we would probably all fit in a sports car.
Consequently, to get the necessary input, we need an international scope. Platforms such as LinkedIn then become very important.
Working within my own small start-up, I do not meet colleagues at the office daily either. It is then both useful and motivating to get responses and feedback via platforms such as LinkedIn
IPBA: The search behaviour for specialist information has changed fundamentally in recent years. 40% of the 3.5 billion searches per day on Google are shifting to social networks and so more and more content is presented there. You have almost 2000 followers on LinkedIn. How important is this social network for you in communicating about your topics and your own expert positioning?
ASH: The numbers are not important in themselves, but the responses and audience are.
When connecting with others about such nerdy subjects, you need a way to find the people who are interested in these topics.
IPBA: The search behaviour for experts and the initiation of personal contacts has also changed due to social distancing during the Corona pandemic and the current “new normal work“. Designed for professional relationships, LinkedIn is growing by 15% annually with over 830 million members and is by far the most important network for legal advisors and IP experts. Do you also notice a growth in LinkedIn activities in your business environment and what role does that play for you and your work?
ASH: I cannot say I notice the growth directly. I am only one person, so my variations will rely much more on internal micro factors than these larger trends. That said, I am not surprised by these numbers, and believe that this is the way we are heading.
Why did you publish at the CEIPI IP Business Academy?
IPBA: The CEIPI IP Business Platform is one of the largest and fastest growing platforms for IP and IP Management worldwide with more than 7.500 follower on LinkedIn. What were your motivations to cooperate?
ASH: Partly, this is to give back to the CEIPI community. I greatly appreciate the work you do, and the insight it provides. Further, I knew that these 7500 followers are genuinely interested in the topics I write about.
IPBA: Your posts has been read more than 4.000 times – would you call that a success? Your LinkedIn post about the value of a ski-binding patent has 79 likes and 12 comments – was that a success for you? Did that help you with your networking activities?
ASH: I’d have to know more of the data to say for sure, but yes. Of these 4000, I hope and think there is a high number of people who found some real value in my work. I see evidence of this also in the insightful comments. Be it 2 or 100000 readers, reaching someone, and providing value, is always a success.
IPBA: Would you like to continue your cooperation with the IP Business Academy?
ASH: Of course! I greatly appreciate how the IP Business Academy contributes to better and smarter IP.
About the interviewee:
With his company Zipip, Andreas is building new smarter IP-services.
Andreas has a wide prior experience within IP and corporate law from The Norwegian Industrial Property Office, major Norwegian law firms, and Onsagers AS.