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Anthony Kavanagh, Patent Attorney (Episode 44)

    Anthony Kavanagh, Patent Attorney (Episode 44) | Anthony helps researchers profit from their intellectual property

    Research Adjacent 44 Anthony Kavanagh podcast art

    For this episode of the Research Adjacent podcast Sarah is talking Anthony Kavanagh, Senior Patent Counsel at Key Patent Innovations Ltd in Dublin, Ireland.

    Helping to protect and profit from innovation

    Anthony used to advise researchers and other inventors on how to protect their innovations. He now works on monetising innovation. That might include applying for patents, brokering licensing deals, or prosecuting those who flout the law. Patents are a type of intellectual property protection. They are a way of registering the rights to a new product or process so that the invention can’t be used by anyone else without permission (and probably payment!).

    Anthony had his first experience of patents when working as a researcher in medical physics. The team developed and patented a radiotherapy technique to treat moving tumours. This led to money for the department and also the researchers themselves, including Anthony.

    “We had an unusually savvy doctor working with us, he applied for a patent and in time the patent was granted. Now in theory it would stop anybody else using our research and might seem selfish, but actually it worked the exact opposite. Companies were more interested in using the technology and that became a unique selling point.”

    From PhD to patent law

    Anthony was already a successful researcher with a PhD and years as a postdoc under his belt. But he was ready for a new intellectual challenge and a way to better support his young family. Around this time Anthony met someone who was training to be a patent attorney and he fixed his sights on making the career move.

    “I just came to the realization that I didn’t necessarily want to do this anymore. I just wanted to try other things. By coincidence, I met someone who was training as a patent attorney and it sounded perfect to me. We had the money and the security of law, but we retained the exposure of working on the cutting edge of technology, and so that was a big encouragement to me.”

    Anthony secured a position with prestigious London patent firm Carpmaels & Ransford. Training was mostly on the job with challenging exams to pass in order to become a qualified patent attorney.

    “The exams are famously tough. A lot of the people that get to the stage of exams are generally high achievers, they’re meant to be the best in their field. And it’s not unusual for them not to pass. Quite often you meet people who the patent law exams are the first exams they’ve ever failed.”

    Delving deep into new technologies

    It’s no surprise then that passing these exams, especially with very young children at home, ranks among Anthony’s proudest moments. He also really enjoys being able to dive deep into the technologies that he is advising clients on.

    “For example I worked in medical devices. I got to see numerous medical staplers to work out how they fold, how they operate. So after a few months, I knew everything there was to know about surgical staplers. You’ll see something on TV about surgical staplers and you’ll know why it’s wrong, and people won’t understand why you keep going on about staples or why it’s so interesting! But then you’ll have finished that portfolio and you’ll have to move into a different area.”

    A little IP goes a long way

    Anthony would like to use his Research Adjacent magic wand to improve general knowledge around intellectual property (IP).

    “Researchers probably have the most to gain from knowing even a small amount about patents. If you know a little bit about it you can actually value your work more, you can know what’s of interest to companies. And that can be really personally financially beneficial to you, but also can help you have at least one aspect of your research which can draw in money.”

    Well Anthony, hopefully this podcast will have helped to start that conversation!

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