Photogenia Michael Buck Principals Hr 1

A new chapter for Brisbane Patent and Trade Mark Attorney firm MBIP

Original article published on Lexology 29 May 2024

The Brisbane intellectual property (IP) attorney profession has undergone substantial changes over the last 5 years. Brisbane is considered a major centre of research and innovation in the Asia-Pacific, so it seems logical that there are a substantial amount of patent attorneys living and working in this global city.

However, patent and trade mark firms in Australia’s third-most populous city have seen significant movement in terms of their professional staff; some attorneys have moved on to work for competitors while others have started their own boutique firms. This may be in part due to a lack of equity pathways and the ongoing acquisitions by companies including IPH Limited and QANTM. If you’re new to or not familiar with the Australian IP market, you might be surprised to learn that the majority of firms in Australia are wholly owned by publicly listed companies.

Unlike those firms, Michael Buck IP (MBIP) has remained an independently owned and operated firm since it was established by Founder Michael Buck in 2009. This is just one of many ways that MBIP differs from competitors.

A dynamic cohort

Before even speaking with MBIP’s three Principals, it’s obvious they differ from the traditional or common stereotype of directors that typically come to mind when thinking about the legal and IP landscape.

 [Left to right: Jeremy, Geraldine and Andy – Photographer: Xavier Montaner, Photogenia]

Andy Mukherji, Jeremy Moller, and Geraldine Rimmer lead a forward-thinking firm of team members who – just like them – come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

All three have a strong focus on strategic business development as well as recruitment. The trio have visited numerous overseas firms and attended many international IP conferences over the past 7 years to develop strong relationships with overseas attorneys, clients, and existing associates. Which is also why they understand the critical role that businesses development and marketing play when it comes to growing a “younger” firm.

Andy Mukherji was first to join MBIP in 2016 as a young Associate. Andy had trained at a national top tier firm before gaining more experience at a mid-tier Queensland firm. His varied experience of working at a top tier and mid-tier firm has been valuable in being able to contribute towards the rapid growth of MBIP. Andy became a Shareholder Principal in 2017 and the firm has grown to become one of Queensland’s leading IP firms.

Reflecting on the firm’s position, Andy says “Our vision is to be a center of excellence when it comes to all things IP. As a boutique mid-tier firm, we believe that we offer excellent value to our clients. As I often say to our prospective clients, we are big enough to do a good job but small enough to be flexible and personable. As a young dynamic firm, we have been successful in offering alternative career pathways to our team members without the pressure of working for a corporate outfit or a conglomerate with invisible ownership. This results in a hands-on dynamic workplace where everyone is part of the growth story”.

Since joining the firm in early 2018, Jeremy Moller has seen a plethora of exceptionally creative and ambitious clients come onboard. He believes that part of MBIP’s success stems from the fact that everything they do at MBIP is driven by their core values, “There are a lot of very good patent and trade mark attorneys in Australia who can draft a patent or trade mark application and obtain a registration. Where MBIP sets itself apart is on the client experience provided by our attorneys and support staff. The client needs to both feel valued and feel they are receiving value from their attorneys. We want our clients to feel we are on the journey with them and want them to succeed rather than just being another number in the system, but this has to start with our team. If the people working on the matters don’t feel valued and engaged, they won’t value and engage with their clients, so we strive to make sure our team work together to maximise the outcomes for our clients and continue to grow, both personally and professionally. MBIP is an ego-free zone and no one person is more important than any other in the team”.

Geraldine Rimmer joined in late 2017 and believes that the diversity and progressive thinking of the firm leadership, as individuals and as practitioners, enriches the firm’s culture and goals immensely.  “Each of us bring unique perspectives, skills and experiences to the table which demonstrates the firm’s commitment to inclusivity and innovation” Geraldine says.  “This diversity allows the firm as a whole to better serve clients by providing insights and solutions tailored to their specific needs.  The variety of perspectives and approaches our diverse team brings, leads to more creative problem-solving and better outcomes – it is a competitive advantage for us in the marketplace and speaks to the internal dynamics of the firm and its external impact on clients.”  MBIP is committed to excellence and reliability at every level.

Pursuit of balance in the workplace

Flexible working arrangements were introduced for staff before COVID-19 impacted working in an office environment. The firm encourages work/life/family balance by offering employees the option of a 9 day work fortnight which has been a way of working for MBIP since early 2019. Post 2020, the firm continues to support arrangements including Hybrid/Work from Home (WFH) options.

Adding further flexibility, this year a second office location has been set up close to the CBD in Brisbane’s Spring Hill. The additional space provides another meeting point for clients, and an alternative location for staff to work from particularly handy for those wanting to catch public transport, as Central Station is just across the road. The Spring Hill office also allows ease of access for those attending meetings and networking events in the CBD. Importantly, the second office will accommodate the firm’s growing team in years to come.  

Office Manager Courtney McDonald has taken part in many of the changes since she joined in 2017, ‘The buzz in our office is undeniable as we embark on this exciting expansion journey. It’s a testament to the dedication and passion of our team, who are all invested in the growth and success of our company”.

Individual satisfaction meets a collaborative approach

Each team member at the firm values a critical component to MBIP’s positive culture and success: internal support.

Whether it be shared laughs around the lunch table or huddled problem-solving and brainstorms, each member of the team contributes to an enjoyable work environment and is committed to helping each other out, utilising a variety of perspectives and experiences and encouraging growth and professional development in the process. This internal support and collaborative approach to work fosters growth in staff, delivering stronger outcomes for the firm and its clients both.

“Like a good sports team, everyone here is a passionate professional contributing to the big picture. We’re all bringing our expertise from past experiences, but at MBIP we don’t have the ‘stigma’ that is sometimes associated with the larger firms”, says Marketing Manager, Tracey Langdale.

Externally, the firm has cultivated strong relationships with clients from a comprehensive range of sectors and includes large global corporations and individual inventors.

Client feedback has highlighted that they value the first-rate personal service they receive from attorneys at MBIP. This is reflected by the fact that MBIP have been awarded Best Specialist IP & Related Services Firm (<$20m revenue) in the Client Choice Awards (by Beaton Research + Consulting) for the last 5 years in a row. More than 250 professional services firms from across Australia and New Zealand submitted to Beaton this year for benchmarking, and over 16,000 individual client ratings were analysed to determine the best firms in each category for 2024. 

While the firm is celebrating 15 years in business this year, it’s clear that MBIP is in a new era, and they’ve got an extremely busy year ahead. The Principals have a strong sense of direction and most importantly, they understand that encouraging their team to feel empowered to share ideas will help boost business innovation and in turn, the continued success and longevity of the firm.  Employees are not just joining a company, but rather becoming part of a tight-knit team where their contributions are valued and supported.  This sense of belonging and stability is very attractive, especially in today’s competitive job market.

A new chapter for Brisbane Patent and Trade Mark Attorney firm MBIP – Lexology