Former Marks & Clerk partners set up new IP firm

Two former Marks & Clerk partners, Stephen Blake and Douglas Rankin, have left the mixed firm to set up Matter IP. The two patent attorneys, both of whom were part of Marks & Clerk's UK managing board, will focus on patent attorney services and IP management consultancy.

22 June 2021 by Amy Sandys

Marks & Clerk, Matter IP Former Marks & Clerk partners Douglas Rankin and Stephen Blake have created their own firm, Matter IP, with a focus on the legal tech sector ©Song_about_summer/ADOBE STOCK

Former Marks & Clerk patent attorneys Stephen Blake (46) and Douglas Rankin (41) have founded their own venture, Matter IP. With a mixture of expertise between them, including hi-tech patents and oil and gas technology, the two-person team will expand its employee base over the coming year.

Stephen Blake began his career as an avionics engineer in the Royal Air Force, before completing a PhD in electronic engineering. Following this, he joined patent attorney firm Potter Clarkson, before moving to Page White & Farrer. He later joined Murgitroyd & Company.

In 2011, Blake joined Marks & Clerk as a patent attorney, where the firm made him partner in 2015. During this time, Blake was a member of council of the European Patent Institute, as well as the managing partner of Marks & Clerk’s Birmingham office.

Douglas Rankin began his career in-house as a product designer at Motorola. In 2009, Rankin joined Marks & Clerk as a patent attorney in its Aberdeen office, where his role included expanding this offering in Scotland. During their time at the firm, both Blake and Rankin were members on Marks & Clerk’s UK board.

A matter of tech

In terms of expertise, Blake’s client base traditionally centres around the high-tech and software sector. Rankin has experience in the energy field, such as technology around oil and gas.

Blake says, “As well as offering an alternative option for companies having in-house patent attorneys and outsourcing patent work, we’re also keen to expand our IP management consultancy. We offer IP management outsourcing, and support and expertise to build a company’s internal IP management capacity.”

The partners’ new firm, Matter IP, is a legal services company advising technology businesses. Its two main service streams are patent attorney services and IP management consultancy. Matter IP will work with businesses in the hi-tech, software, medical devices, telecoms and engineering sectors. Currently, the firm is implementing a ‘work from anywhere’ policy, with the two directors based in Leicester and Aberdeen.

Matter IP is looking to expand over the coming year. The firm’s directors are focusing on encouraging applications from as diverse a range of IP practitioners as possible. Blake says, “The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated our ability to work from anywhere. We’re keen to expand this policy and maintain it for the future.”

Marks & Clerk in the future

The departure of Stephen Blake and Douglas Rankin from Marks & Clerk comes as former principle associate Jo Bradley also leaves to join Kilburn & Strode. At the latter UK patent attorney firm, which Bradley has joined as partner, she will focus on life sciences and chemistry.

Marks & Clerk’s UK managing partner, Simon Mounteney, says, “Our current practice is unaffected by these departures and our clients have not been impacted. As part of our annual programme, we will shortly be electing a number of new partners from among our excellent pool of associates. We see no need to take specific action in relation to these particular changes.”

He says, “On a personal level, our leavers depart as friends. We are very grateful to the contributions they made during their time with us and we wish them all well in their new endeavours.”

Currently, Marks & Clerk has 147 patent practitioners, of whom 47 are partners.