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Listed IP firms to suffer dire consequences

Intellectual property law firms that have decided to list on the ASX are set to face significant repercussions, according to one chief executive officer.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly about his firm’s recent expansion, Wrays CEO Frank Hurley (pictured) highlighted a number of trends in the IP market.

Mr Hurley pointed to the three listed IP firms – IPH Limited (IPH), Xenith IP Group Limited (Xenith) and Qantm Intellectual Property Limited (Qantm) – as the start of a big shift in the market, but not necessarily one for the better.

Instead, Mr Hurley said listed IP firms are receiving negative feedback from two distinct groups.

“We're getting feedback from two groups. One is that offshore associates, particularly the United States, are very unhappy that these firms are listing because they're seeing that they're focused on shareholder value, not client value.

“So whether they will jump I don't know, whether they'll change and go to a more independent firm, I don't know, but we're certainly hearing in the market that they're not happy.

“We're [also] getting senior people from these organisations approaching us asking 'Have you got a job?', because their career paths have been abbreviated.”

Expanding on this, Mr Hurley said ASX-listed IP firms are losing sight of their people and creating an opportunity for firms such as Wrays to pick up the slack.

“We've now got three big gorillas running around the paddock, all worried about shareholder value, so they need to grow revenue and they're out acquiring firms everywhere, but at the end of the day they've got a whole bunch of staff who have suddenly had a career path disappear,” he said.

“If you're a senior associate in one of those firms you’ve lost your pathway to equity.

“We're seeing that as a massive opportunity for us and our clients.”

Mr Hurley’s comments come after IPH, Xenith and Qantm each saw their share prices rapidly decline in the second half of 2016.


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