Mewburn Ellis is a forward-thinking IP firm that's always looking ahead and constantly transforming to meet tomorrow's challenges. It's a culture that's been forged through more than 150 years of unrivalled innovation and service to our clients and our profession.
John Clayton Mewburn was a talented and enthusiastic young patent agent when he founded his intellectual property office in London in 1867. Just 27 years old, he knew an opportunity when he saw one.
The 1852 Patent Law Amendment Act had simplified the procedure for obtaining patents, with reduced fees and just a single office to cover the entire United Kingdom. The Industrial Revolution was still in full swing, with technological and scientific innovation at its height. So there were not only more people looking to protect their inventions and ideas, it was also easier and cheaper for them to do so than ever before.
John’s first filing at the patent office related to harvesting machines. His practice grew steadily over the next two decades, thanks to his hard work, commitment and especially his vision. He is rumoured to have been first in the queue for the iconic telegraphic address PATENT LONDON, which he acquired in 1887, apparently ahead of the London Patent Office, by camping on the Post Office doorstep the night before! Business really began to take off in the 1890s, when John joined forces with George Beloe Ellis – a solicitor who shared his passion for new inventions and industrial property. Together the two men set about fulfilling their desire to protect the technologies they loved.
We’ve always had an opinion and worked to shape policy. John was a founding member of the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents (CIPA) in 1882, later serving as a Council member and distinguished President from 1888 to 1890. Continuing the family tradition, John Clifford Holgate Ellis played an important part in the drafting of the European Patent Convention in 1973 and was recognised with a CBE in 1977. Our partners and staff have always been encouraged to have an opinion and contribute to publications and conferences and the industry as a whole. Throughout its history, Mewburn Ellis has played a leading role in promoting IP and shaping our profession.
Today, our people have prominent roles on bodies such as the CIPA and the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Agents (CITMA) in the UK, as well as international bodies such as FICPI, INTA, MARQUES, AIPPI, CEIPI and JIPA.
Innovation and the early adoption of modern processes, infrastructure and technology have been at the heart of Mewburn Ellis operations since the early days. We installed one of the country’s first telephone lines at our offices in 1902. In the same year, we began a process of geographical expansion that continues today, recognising the value of local presence in building strong client and sector relationships. A Newcastle office was established first in 1902, helping shipbuilding and mining clients protect their intellectual property. Attention turned to Sheffield and Bristol in the 1920s, with a Manchester office added in the 1980s.
We opened an office in Cambridge in 1990, specifically to strengthen links with the emerging genetic engineering and pharma sectors. As we grew in size, so our reputation for a client-focused, creative approach to IP protection spread too. George Ellis’ daughter, Margaret Dixon, was known in the firm as the ‘Opposition Queen’ due to her skills, whatever side she was on. Margaret’s practically-minded cousin, Lovell Ellis, became well known for overcoming objections to the registration of Bristol Milk and Bristol Cream as trade marks for sherry.
More recently, a current partner was the first to successfully patent an aptamer. This continues a life sciences tradition that dates back to our filing of one of the first patent applications for a recombinant protein/genetic engineering invention at the European Patent Office almost 40 years ago.
Embracing, valuing and nurturing talent across diverse skills, geographies and gender is another Mewburn Ellis tradition. When Margaret Dixon joined the firm in 1929, qualifying as a Patent Agent in 1936, she became the first woman to take up patent agency as a full-time career. Today, more than half of our partners and associates hold doctorates.
Individuals are also encouraged to build their skills through our unique internal development programme and to learn about other firms and companies through secondments. We are recognised across the industry for our commitment to, and excellence in, the training of new attorneys and for our success supporting our people through to qualification. We know this approach works because our clients tell us and our people stay with us.
Our firm is long-standing, and so are our client relationships – 45% of our client base have worked with us for over 20 years. This shows the strength of relationships our people build and the trust our clients have in us as their advisors. We have also forged strong partnerships in the US, Japan, China and many other countries.
For over 30 years, a two-week Mewburn Ellis Course on European Patents has given intellectual property practitioners from Japan and other Asian countries the chance to study the legal and practical aspects of working with the EPC and EPO. The course offers a unique opportunity for delegates to share knowledge with our attorneys, and to form strong working relationships that benefit the individuals, our clients and the profession.
In 2017 we officially opened our first office in mainland Europe – in Munich, Germany. This represents an important new step in the expansion of our IP services, following a period of significant growth for us in the UK. Our new office, which has already had to move once due to its pace of growth, is fully part of Mewburn Ellis LLP. We have undertaken IP work in Europe for domestic and international clients for many years. But given the increase in the volume of European work we handle, establishing an on the- ground presence was the natural next step. All five offices work together closely and effectively.
For more than 150 years, Mewburn Ellis has been helping clients nurture, plan and protect their ideas and innovations, helping them build the brands and technologies that will define the future. As a forward-looking IP firm, we are committed to continuing our proud tradition of adapting to the changing environment and being at the forefront of innovation, while maintaining our rich heritage.