Posted on Saturday 16 August 2008 by Cruickshank Intellectual Property

In business, understanding competitors is vital. If your business partners are working with rival companies, then that can lead to a conflict of interests, resulting in damage to your own business and perhaps even a good reputation. So when choosing a foreign associate for filing, it is imperative to research their track record, as well as the clients they are currently working with.


Who can you trust?

With bigger firms, it can be challenging to find out everything necessary, as most will keep their client history confidential in order not to damage future business prospects. In many cases, the bigger the firm, the more chance there to eventually encounter a conflict of interests. With smaller firms, it is much easier to keep tabs on what projects they are currently working on.

This is particularly applicable when it comes to working with overseas partners. Tracking their business interests, especially with multinationals can become more difficult if there is no protocol within the company to identify such conflicts.


Protect your interests

So when choosing a firm, make sure it is one that understands your business, its goals and will proactively work to keep the company’s best interests at heart. Of course, there are no guarantees, but there are recommended steps to protect a company at the outset when agreeing the terms of the business relationship:

  • Be specific when defining the relationship and expectations
  • Request transparency throughout
  • Establish clear protocols for reporting potential conflicts of interest
  • Make it clear what actions will be taken for breaches of conduct
  • Create a contingency plan in case of a conflict of interest occurring


A conflict of interest can be damaging for both parties

Most smaller agencies will be aware of the reputational damage that could occur by engaging in business that results in a conflict of interest to their clients. They should therefore be open and forthright when it comes to these matters.


The lesson is, when it comes to filing patent applications, make sure the foreign associate you choose is on your side.