As our senior attorney in New Zealand, it falls to Matt to play a role in expanding our New Zealand team and client base.

Now that Matt has had a little time to find his feet, we turn the spotlight on him.

Kia ora, Matt, nau mai. Now you’ve been at FB Rice for six months, how’s it all going for you? Do you feel you have settled in with FB Rice?

A. Kia ora e hoa. Has it been six months already? It’s been fun getting to know my new colleagues and finding out about the firm’s culture. It’s always nice when your personal values align with those of your organisation. Which is what I’ve found here.

One thing I particularly like about FB Rice is that we appreciate and celebrate diversity. I like that everybody is comfortable being themselves at work, and I like it that my own personal idiosyncrasies and aspirations are supported. For example, our New Zealand heritage and culture is very important to me and FB Rice have supported me in learning te reo Māori.

Q. Has this move to FB Rice been a big change for you?

A. I don’t think the move has been a big change to be honest. I’ve been a patent attorney for nearly three decades. In fact, I’ve been a patent attorney for longer than I haven’t been a patent attorney. Joining FB Rice has given me the opportunity to carry on doing the work I love in a supportive environment.

What are your plans for the next six months?

A. FB Rice has an extensive network throughout Australia, New Zealand, and internationally. I’m going to leverage that network and my own connections in order to expand the New Zealand business. I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues on this.

I’d also like to take up some of the professional development opportunities FB Rice offers such as the Leadership Programme, and support the Mentorship Programme by acting as a mentor to other attorneys looking to develop in their career.

Remote working seems to be a sign of the times since Covid. How do you feel about working in a different country and different time zone from most of your colleagues?

A. I really appreciate how open FB Rice is to bringing colleagues together across countries and time zones. I’m really pleased that FB Rice is able to recognize the opportunities that exist.

It can actually be advantageous, for example, a couple of months ago we needed to send out an urgent client briefing. I prepared a draft by the end of my work day in Wellington. I sent it to my colleagues in Sydney for review who worked on it in their afternoon. They sent their final version to my colleagues in Perth for distribution. We effectively added five hours to our normal work day by using time zones to our advantage.

How do you drive team bonding, support and collaboration when working remotely?

A. One thing that Covid-19 lockdowns have shown us is that we are all capable of operating remotely.

As well as setting up and growing the office in New Zealand, I’m also part of the Melbourne Engineering patent team. We have weekly team catchups and regular one-on-one meetings.

We are supported by the largest team of patent attorneys in Australia with members based not only in Melbourne, but in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Parramatta, and Wellington.

Over the last six months I’ve visited the offices in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for social and professional development events. And a few FB Ricers have visited the Wellington office. I think it’s really important to connect in person with my colleagues. FB Rice really supports that.

What services does FB Rice offer in New Zealand?

A. We offer the same intellectual property law services in New Zealand as we do in Australia. That is to say, IP strategy, patents, trade marks, designs, searching, oppositions, litigation support, renewals / annuities, plant breeders rights and copyright. Our Wellington office is supported by the whole firm with a wide range of technical and industry specialists. When clients engage our Wellington office they have access to attorneys with expertise in all areas of Engineering, Computer & Electrical Sciences, Biotechnology, Chemistry, and Medical Technology.

Q. And finally - on a more personal note - I’ve heard you’ve taken up mountain biking recently. How’s that going?

A. We are surrounded by hills here in Wellington. Many of them have mountain bike trails on them. My challenge for 2022 was to start making use of them. I’m really enjoying the challenge. And I’m even improving my crash rate slowly.

Matt mountain biking

In a few sentences – what is your advice to those looking to commercialise their idea?

A. Every idea is different so of course our advice would be different depending on individual circumstances. A business plan is important as it can help define a path from a hobby to a business. Seek professional advice around your ideal business structure and intellectual property strategy. Make sure you have a good investment strategy, as milestones are probably going to take longer and cost more to reach than expected.