Clause 8: Ed Murgitroyd on Disrupting IP Services and Leading a Publicly Traded IP Law Firm

In 1975, Ian Murgitroyd founded his own firm in Glasgow, Scotland after stumbling into the patent field.  He could not have imagined that it would become one of the world’s biggest IP service providers, let alone that it would make history by being the first and only law firm to be listed on the London Stock Exchange or later be acquired by a private equity firm for £63 million.

His son, Ed Murgitroyd, worked with his father to put Murgitroyd on that trajectory and eventually became its CEO.  However, that record acquisition, and what followed, took Ed by surprise and proved more bitter than sweet.

Undeterred, Ed founded Hexos IP – a tech-based global renewals and annuity services company in the US.

Ed joins Eli on the Clause 8 Podcast to talk about how Murgitroyd grew to be one of Europe’s biggest IP law firms and his disruptive new venture, Hexos IP.

Ed discusses the challenges and successes of Murgitroyd, including its expansion into Europe and the United States. Ed also talks about the decision to go public and why the private equity acquisition didn’t work out as he imagined. He shares valuable insights on building a successful firm, the importance of customer service, and the business of renewal fees.

On Working with His Dad

“We actually had offices across from each other. And that was probably annoying for him but not for me: I just listened all the time, to every conversation. He would leave his door open and the amount I learned – his business brain was off the charts.  Just how he would look at things and negotiate deals or navigate challenges. I got the joyous opportunity – looking back, now that he’s passed away – of being able to sit for hours and hours and hours on end with my father across from me and listen to how his brain worked.”

Becoming a ‘Publicly Traded’ Law Firm

“For the first month, you watched it every minute. And then I remember at the end of the first day when it was traded, me and my dad went into his office and I’m like “so I guess we’re publicly traded, how did it go?” And he was like “a bit of a letdown, like, I thought something would feel different. But yet here we are just doing exactly the same thing: we’re getting patent applications out, we’re dealing with foreign agents,” he said, “Isn’t that interesting?” So, I think it caught us off guard a little bit. We thought it was going to be this big, dramatic thing.”

Vision for Hexos IP

What we’re trying to offer is just a modern alternative to what’s been done before. Look, at the end of the day, there’s a date something needs to be paid.  It used to be just two big books my dad would talk about: there was one big journal book with renewals to be paid in day order and each day you folded over. And then once it was paid, you put it into the new book for the next one.  Its essence is so basic: you’re just trying to make a payment to a government, the right amount on the right day and you’re great.

Other highlights:

| 04:48 | Ed’s father starting Murgitroyd firm in Glasgow, Scotland in 1975 thanks to loan from a mysterious benefactor

| 13:06 | Threat to take local firms to European Court of Justice for trying to stop Murgitroyd’ s expansion in Europe

| 24:26 | Decision to list on the London Stock Exchange shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks

| 31:44 | Business lessons from his father

| 46:59 | Taking over as CEO

| 50:01 | Private equity firm acquiring Murgitroyd for £63 Million leaving a bitter aftertaste

| 55:00 | Lessons learned from acquisition of other law firms

| 1:14:38 | Non-attorney ownership of law firm & why “who’s pulling the strings” is what ultimately matters

| 1:19:04 | Advice on business development for introverted patent attorneys |

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