Intellectual property firm ROBIC joining IPH Limited, the international group of IP service firms

Merger assists firm with growth and development of people, says Dario Pietrantonio

Intellectual property firm ROBIC joining IPH Limited, the international group of IP service firms
Dario Pietrantonio, ROBIC

Another prominent intellectual property firm will join IPH Limited, the international group of IP service firms.

On Tuesday, ROBIC, the Quebec-based firm with offices in Montreal and Quebec City, announced that it will join IPH. The news follows IPH’s acquisition of Smart & Biggar in August 2022. IPH comprises several IP law firms in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. The transaction is expected to close in mid-December and is worth $110.5 million.

“We believe that the transaction will prove to be mutually beneficial for both parties in that it allows IPH to continue to grow in its preferred markets and allows ROBIC to continue to take up market share in Canada,” says Dario Pietrantonio, a Montreal-based lawyer, trademark agent, partner, and member of the executive committee at ROBIC.

IPH’s focus is to pursue growth in secondary IP markets such as Canada, and ROBIC will add to its “strong and growing presence” in the Canadian market and provide further diversification of its business, says Pietrantonio. With increasingly competitive international markets, ROBIC decided it would be better positioned for the future by joining IPH. Combining with IPH will allow ROBIC to access capital to invest in growing and developing its practice, people, and systems, he says.

“We expect the transaction will provide enhanced career prospects for employees and service offering for clients as part of a leading international IP services group,” says Pietrantonio.

He says the impact of globalization on the IP practice was another motivator for ROBIC to join IPH.

“The arrival on the market of large consolidators who are competing with traditional firms is a challenge. Integrating an international IP services group such as IPH will allow us to better compete with these new players.”

Though ROBIC is one of the largest IP practices in Canada, Pietrantonio says the merger was also a way to respond to the challenges AI poses to the practice.

“Being able to rely on the best available software tools, including AI, will become an important challenge in the coming decade,” he says. “Even though we are one of the most important IP firms in Canada, adapting and optimizing the use of AI and other tools would have been a challenge for a firm our size. To be able to rely on IPH’s experience and resources will certainly help us in dealing with these challenges in the future.”

In its announcement, ROBIC said the firm will gain access to leading IP expertise in well-established networks across ten jurisdictions. The announcement said the deal will provide significant resources ROBIC will gear towards IP services delivery. IPH will acquire ROBIC’s IP agency practice, which will have an interest in ROBIC’s legal practice. ROBIC will continue to operate under its existing brand.

IPH spans 25 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Its firms include AJ Park, Griffith Hack, Pizzeys, Spruson & Ferguson, and online IP services provider Applied Marks. The company has more than 1,400 employees in Australia, China, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

IPH managing director and CEO Dr. Andrew Blattman says he loves the idea of bringing in a great firm with a strong brand and a “wonderful heritage.”

“We look forward to seeing them grow and continue to prosper as part of IPH. It just basically feeds into our story, which is continuing to grow in the secondary markets,” he says. “In the last 12 months, we've added another very strong pillar to our business. We have the Australian-New Zealand pillar of the business. We have Southeast Asia. And now we have a comparable pillar in Canada. I think it's fantastic.”

The acquisition of Smart & Biggar was IPH’s first outside the Asia-Pacific region. At the time, Smart & Biggar’s managing director Matthew Zischka said the transaction put his firm “on a global stage” and connected it to “a number of venerable IP firms,” many of which have been in operation for over 100 years. ROBIC was founded in 1892.

Zischka said the deal, worth $348 million, gave Smart & Biggar greater stability and the opportunity to pursue growth opportunities in Canada. He added that interacting with colleagues in the markets where IPH operates will position his firm to leverage their techniques, approaches, and client services.

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