TWO QUEENSLAND firms, Cullen & Co and Eagar & Buck, are about to join forces to create the state’s largest specialist patent and trademark firm.
The combined firm will go by the Cullen & Co title and will comprise around 45 staff, with offices in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville.
Cullen & Co is the larger of the two firms, with about 16 attorneys who practise across six areas — life sciences, applied pharma and chemistry, electrical, computer software and IT, mineral and mining technologies, mechanical and packaging technologies and trademarks. Eagar + Buck comprises four attorneys who specialise mainly in electrical, computer software and IT.
Cullen & Co partner Regan Gourley said that the merger provided an ideal opportunity for growth in what is a difficult market for recruitment.
“Especially in today’s climate in Queensland, it’s very difficult to attract even qualified staff, let alone experienced staff,” he said.
Patent attorneys, unlike lawyers, need to have a technical background, Gourley explained, and the firm is having difficulty recruiting suitable candidates.
“All the engineers coming out of uni are getting snapped up by the big mining houses and large manufacturing [companies], where they can command large salaries straight out,”
“So we were finding that we were having trouble attracting people with the [right] backgrounds,” he said, “So getting four people with experience — that was a winner all round for us.”
In particular, the addition of specialists in the electrical area will greatly strengthen the firm’s expertise in this area, Gourley explained.
“It meant we could basically double the depth in our electrical department. It’s going to go from being one of our middle sized-departments to the biggest department in the firm,” he said.
Likewise, Gourley said, Eagar + Buck were looking to grow and gain economies of scale but were having difficulty finding qualified staff to build up a critical mass.
“They’d worked really hard to grow themselves to a stage where they were getting a reputation for doing some good work, but they were finding [it difficult] to take that next step from the size of the firm they were to the size of the firm they wanted to be,” Gourley said.
For Eagar + Buck, the additional support staff and resources offered by a larger firm were also a drawcard. “In order to be a bigger business, you have to have time to market, but because they were doing so much accounting, admin and HR themselves they were finding it really difficult to do that,” he said.
“We have an HR person, a marketing manager and an accounts department to do all that so we can build the business. So it was attractive on both side, for different reasons.”
For now, Eagar & Buckley staff will remain in their Fortitude Valley offices, but Gourley envisages that both firms’ staff will relocate to a larger premises in Brisbane early next year.
According to Gourley, the reaction from staff at both firms has been very positive. “Both sides are really keen to do it because it presented such an advantage to both of us,” he said.