Spend a day with IP Director Dr Chris Friend

08:30  I am currently working from home as we’re four weeks into the national coronavirus lockdown. Nexeon was quick to respond to government advice to close offices wherever possible, and almost all our non-lab based workforce is away from their usual base. I’ve been working from home for five weeks now. Thankfully, video conferencing works well, so I can continue with most of my normal activities fairly easily.

I start with a call to one of my team, Shubhra, who is stuck in India, having been caught by the travel restrictions while on a short holiday there with her family! She is a patent analyst and we agree some actions that she can carry out remotely.

09:00  If there are any email messages from our Yokohama office in Japan I will look at those next. After filing our patents in the UK, we use the PCT system and file subsequently in Japan as well as other territories around the world that are key for our silicon anode technology. My interaction with Japan KK at the moment relates to preparing and revising legal agreements relating to IP, such as those covering non-disclosure and collaborations with our customers and suppliers there.  

09:30  Next, I do some online work on Patent Office actions, to update our view of the silicon materials patent landscape. I update my fellow directors and investors periodically on the progress of patent applications and the strength of our patent portfolio.

11:00  I make a couple of calls to our technical team to discuss some details of recent developments in our battery materials, and use the data generated through internal and Innovate UK sponsored product development programmes to update our IP strategy. I liaise with our patent attorneys in London who will be drafting a response to an Examiner’s Report and filing new patent applications.

Keeping close to the technical teams is essential. I always consider the benefits and risks of filing new patents against keeping developments a trade secret. At same time, I need to make sure that the IP strategy is aligned with and supports our commercial plans, so these communications are critically important.

13:00  I have some lunch at home. As my study desk is currently being used by my children for their home schooling, I tend to sit at the kitchen table most of the time where the Wi-Fi signal is good! I tend not to eat lunch with the family, as we are working to different schedules, but I can hear the children getting on with their various activities. If the weather is good I may spend some time working outside.

14:00  I do some initial work on a report for next month’s Board meeting. We review IP strategy a couple of times a year, and it could take up to a day to condense a lot of complex information into a form ready to present. Nexeon’s IP function is aligned with technology development, commercial and business plans, so mine is a very rewarding role. 

15:45  I see there is an alert on a trade mark application made by another company, and I read the correspondence to consider whether Nexeon should oppose it, but on this occasion decide against.

16:15  Following Nexeon’s recent acquisition of some interesting patents relating to the use of silicon in lithium ion battery anodes previously assigned to Litarion GmbH, I take a short while to update portfolio summaries, and to document how these patents will be used to complement our existing patents.

17:00  Like many parents with school children at home, I’m expected to be the family expert on all things electronic when they stop functioning properly, and to provide positive feedback on the results of their day’s school work. That means I get called upon whenever some help is required! Then, sometime after 5pm they start telling me that they are getting hungry, and I need to start making dinner, for which we all sit down together and talk about our day. I’ll be working a little later this evening to catch up.