We sat down with Ilan Riess, a patent agent with a passion for helping his clients go from tiny start-ups to huge organisations.
Could you tell us a little bit more about your role?
“To give you some background, I have a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biotechnology. I am a patent agent, so I write patents in a variety of fields including medical devices and biology. I’m also head of the design patent department.
“I’m in charge of drafting and filing plant breeder rights applications, which is another IP field completely. These are for the companies who develop new varieties of plants, and since you’re not allowed to file for a patent on a thing of nature—neither a person, nor a plant—the way to protect the new variety is by applying for a plant breeder’s rights.
“I am also the firewall between different IP-related software providers and my company. My role can vary because one day I have a design patent to file or draft, and on another my focus is on drafting patent applications or responses to patent examinations. I also perform several searches during the week and that’s how I use PatSnap.”
What are the typical challenges you and your clients face within your industry?
“The main challenge for me is that during the day there are only 24 hours and I need to deal with that. So, I have to fit as much as possible into a small amount of time because I actually do not work 24/7. I work like 10, 12, 15 hours a day and therefore I need to fit everything in.
“I also teach the new generations of patent agents in the office, so it’s doing my job and trying to provide the guidance necessary for them to succeed.
“The main challenge for our clients is the fact that most of them do not understand how the patent world works. So, they come to us and they have this vision that the patent will defend everything that they’re inventing, and we need to explain to them what the patent will cover—the protection and how the content of the patent application is different from what they’re doing. They often don’t know if they have any other options, for example, so it is also part of my job to expose them to the variety of IP tools that they can use.”
What does success look like for you and your clients?
“It takes time and every relationship comes in several levels, so we follow our clients from the beginning. Usually, they are a brand new start-up and they come to us with the raw idea of what they want to do.
“So, we sit with them and they explain to us the invention and we write the patent application, then a year after that we meet again for the next phase of the patent application. We ask them how the business plan is going and we update each other on the developments of the invention.
“After this comes the first examination during the PCT phase and if we get very good results, that’s the first triumph we have with our clients. We can explain to them that due to their great inventions and our skills of writing, they’ve got a potential patent application that is going to be great because, according to international opinion, it’s a very good patent.
“We have clients that are with us for between 5 to 10 years and there are those who, over time, have gone from being start-ups to mature enterprises. During that time, they file more applications because they develop new technologies. So, we have clients that are with us for at least 10 years and we have clients that are brand new.
“Our office tends to get very personal with the client… meaning that we want to offer them not only what they want but also what they need.”
How have you used PatSnap to address some of your challenges?
“First, it [PatSnap] allows us to increase the level of professionality of our presentations. We invest a lot in our first meetings with our clients. Before they come here to talk about their technology, we ask them what they do and during the meeting, we already have a presentation of their field of technology. It’s given us more access to tools we’ve never had before, like the patent portfolio valuation.
“In my case, I perform searches in a much quicker way. Once I’ve got the relevant patent documents and families, I can go straight to Insights [by PatSnap] and it gives me the analysis graphically, and I can quickly do my searches.
“Typical searches would normally take me about 2 days, but with PatSnap, a simple search can take me about 5 hours. If it’s a tough one, it takes me a day. And if it’s an extremely difficult search, it would take me 2 days… but before PatSnap it would have taken me 5 days.”
Are there personal drivers behind what you’re doing? Why is this so important to you?
“I hope it doesn’t sound like a cliché but the success of our clients is my personal drive. After they’ve invested so much in their inventions, using such creative teams, assuring their IP is the most important thing for me. Besides, it is an extremely interesting job and I love it.”