Category Archives: &Law Updates

IP Draughts’ Late Lunch 2

Yesterday, IP Draughts hosted a one-hour, online meeting, using Zoom, and titled IP Draughts’ Late Lunch. It was an experiment to see if people would turn up, contribute, and enjoy the experience. It was billed as a light-hearted, social conversation, for those of us who are in varying states of lockdown during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Early indications are that it was a success. For most of the hour, we had 13 participants, nearly all of whom were on camera. A majority were from the UK (spread from south-east England to Inverness, in the north of Scotland), plus others in the USA, France, Switzerland and Germany. Most of us worked in the fields of IP, technology transfer or contracts.

We talked about lots of different things. How we found home-working, our experiences of shopping and leaving home (with different rules in different countries), how we interacted with others, working at different times of the day, the social side of work, dealing with children while they are at home, and so on.

The consensus seemed to be that we should repeat the experiment, perhaps every couple of weeks. Two weeks from yesterday will be Good Friday, and people may have other commitments on that day. So, IP Draughts has scheduled another Zoom meeting for the previous day, Thursday 9th April, at 2 pm UK time (time differences with other countries may not be the same as yesterday, as we all seem to start Summer Time on different dates). Please put this date and time in your diary!

Again, IP Draughts will post log-in details on this blog about an hour before the meeting is due to start.

Yesterday’s experience suggests that once people break the ice, they are happy to have a wide-ranging discussion rather than stick to a specific topic. However, to get us started, let’s focus on the topic of building relationships remotely, i.e. when we can’t all be in the same room.

Suggestions for other topics and formats are welcomed.

 

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Psst… pass it on, we’re meeting at 2pm

As indicated in an earlier blog posting, IP Draughts will be hosting a online meeting on Zoom at 2 pm today (UK time). Log-in details below.

Topic: IP Draughts Late Lunch

Time: Mar 27, 2020 02:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/890271571

Meeting ID: 890 271 571

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Working through the pandemic

In common with a significant part of the UK population, and apparently much of the world, members of our firm are mostly working from home, and have been for the last 10 days. Many of our clients have started to do likewise, this week.

Fortunately, our IT system makes this relatively straightforward. IP Draughts can call any of his colleagues on their internal, 3-digit phone number, and it will ring on their laptop or other device in their home office. If you need to speak to us in a multi-party phone call, we can arrange a conference call facility, or we can do 3-way calls readily on our phones or via an app.

We have also started to use Microsoft Teams, a kind of video conference call facility, which worked very well for a partners’ meeting yesterday.

None of this is ideal – face-to-face meetings are sometimes much better – but we can make it work. We are also planning to hold regular, non-work meetings with our colleagues to try to replace the usual social interaction, and reduce the sense of isolation. If you are someone with whom we regularly deal, please let us know if you have any particular requirements or wishes for interaction, e.g. as to frequency, timing, methods, etc.

We have cancelled or postponed our upcoming courses, including the one-week course on IP Transactions, due to take place at UCL in April, which has been rescheduled for November. We are aware of other conferences that are going to be run digitally rather than in person, e.g the BioTrinity conference.

Our thoughts are with people whose jobs require them to have face-to-face contact with members of the public, such as those in retail and hospitality businesses. They face both the worry of being infected, and the worry of potentially losing their jobs if their business is badly affected in the short term.

 

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Negotiating IP agreements

One of the conference rooms below our offices

A little over a week ago, we had some staff training. The excellent Rob Marshall led a day on the subject of negotiation.

Many of the techniques that Rob discussed, and had us practise, involved a problem-solving approach to negotiation. This technique was compared with soft and hard negotiation.

Most of the techniques were familiar to IP Draughts from the CEDR mediation skills training that he received last year, and also reflected the approach that he has learnt over many years when negotiating IP agreements. Rob told us that very few people (in percentage terms) actually practise this type of negotiation. It is perhaps encountered more with relational contracts (as the English courts are increasingly calling them), where the parties have to work together in future, than in one-off transactions such as M&A.

Rob Marshall

Particularly interesting to IP Draughts was when Rob had us answer some questions and bring the scores into the large reception area of the Manor House. He had divided the area up into a triangle whose points were marked people, process and outcomes, respectively. We had to position ourselves based on our scores. We were fairly spread out, reflecting the different personality types of our lawyers (more diverse than some firms), but inevitably clustering somewhat towards process, given our jobs.

We had a second set of scores for when we were under stress, and the movement of people at this point was very interesting – some moving further towards process but some “flipping” towards outcomes. Part of the point of this exercise was to help us focus on the fact that some people change their behaviour significantly in stressful negotiations, whereas others hardly change at all.

A good negotiating team will have a range of personality types to complement one another. Part of a good lawyer’s role is to fill any gaps in the commercial manager’s approach, which can be in the area of process: IP Draughts has sometimes found he was the only person in the room who seemed to care about this aspect. Or perhaps the client was happy to leave process to IP Draughts to deal with, while they focussed on personal relationships and “getting the deal done”.

But it is not always this area. Thinking back, IP Draughts has sometimes helped to facilitate troubled negotiations by being more people-focussed than his client. And on other occasions, he has helped drive unfocussed discussions towards a conclusion, which you might call impatience or a focus on outcomes, depending on your preference.

Keeping people, process and outcomes in balance is a good way to think about preparing for, and managing, negotiations.

Of course, not everyone cares about all of these qualities. If a prospective client cares only about outcomes (extreme example: Donald Trump), he may choose a lawyer who appears to embody a strong outcomes-based approach. It may be impossible to know in advance who best to take to a beauty parade if you don’t know the approach of the interviewers; a possible approach is to take a team of different personality types.

 

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