By Pointer CEO, Robert Stolk
Following the success we’ve had with the opening of new offices in China and the United States, we’re pleased to announce the appointment of Marcus Stewart as our new director of business development for the UK.
With three decades worth of experience acquired in high-level roles in telecommunications, patents and IP-information technologies, Marcus is now turning his specialist knowledge of IP to the protection of British brands.
He began his career as a management trainee with British Rail, eventually turning a lifelong love of engineering and technology into roles where he provided information solutions for companies including Vodafone and Nokia. If you’ve ever been told what time your train leaves by one of those digital displays in a railway station then Marcus may have had a hand in that.
Marcus joins Pointer after working as a global sales manager for LexisNexis, where he had a wide-ranging remit that means he’s the perfect addition for our continued expansion into new territories. His combination of technical expertise, information systems knowledge and global experience will be crucial for his new role leading business relationships with key brands in the UK’s technologically advanced market.
With Brexit approaching, some people might ask questions about whether now is the right time for Pointer to enter the UK, but I have no doubts. The UK’s track record when it comes to establishing new brands with distinctive intellectual property is amazing. Finance takes more of the headlines, but the UK creative industries alone are worth over £100billion and they’ve produced everything from computer games to heritage brands, all of which stand to suffer from counterfeiting. That’s why we’re so excited to now have Marcus in the market offering a solution to British brands.
I asked Marcus a few questions to introduce him to our Pointer team:
So, Marcus, where are you from?
I’m from London originally, but I’m also an army brat. We left London when I was one, returning when I was thirteen. In that time, we travelled the world with my father who was in the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME). We spent a lot of time on army bases in Germany, but we also lived in Hong Kong for a couple of years. I was always interested in electronics and engineering, but I didn’t want to join the army myself, so I moved into a different field. Those experiences did set me up well for later life though and I still believe that travel broadens your horizons.
How did your working life start?
I started out with British Railways as a management trainee. That involved specializing in telecommunications, so when I moved on I took that forward and ended up selling integrated IT solutions back to the railways. I worked with teams of designers on selling tangible products like the audio and visual systems that deliver passenger information.
That sounds a long way from brand protection?
Well the way it links to joining Pointer is that we used to use a company called Dialog, now called ProQuest, which we used to find tenders. That was my first foray into information sales. I didn’t realize until I came out of the railways and started with ProQuest that there was such a huge industry and economy around decision support tools and information tools. From there I started selling engineering data files and patent data files to companies.
I moved to Thomson Reuters, where I was taken on to focus on patent professionals because they had different solutions for those people. The clients were typically involved in research and development, and patent information is central to them because such a high percentage of our technological advancements are contained within the patent data. From a business perspective, if you aren’t looking at that then you aren’t going to be kept up to speed. If you’re serious in the tech-business field then you need access to patent information and IP data in order to make informed decisions, thus allowing you to make the best deals or buys.
I moved to LexisNexis to do a similar role, but mainly to establish them as a major player in the IP vendor market, particularly working with research and development people to streamline their patent work. I got exposure to a wide range of clients and solutions, working with Rolls Royce to make their patent application and prosecution process more streamlined. I’ve also worked with Vodafone to focus on where important future mergers and acquisitions might happen based on patent portfolios.
I worked across the EMEA region, but in my last role I was also responsible for the rest of the world, so I’ve done business as far as Australia and Russia.
Do you think your background has prepared you for brand protection?
I’m fortunate to have my background because it allows me to have a broader overview of how all these areas fit together. To me, patent information is just one flavour of intellectual property, but trademarks are another. In my last role I even worked with a company on a way to manage and monetize trade secrets, that’s another route which is becoming popular for protecting companies and individuals who don’t necessarily have the financial backing to maintain a large patent portfolio.
These kinds of considerations are also important within brand protection because it comes down to how efficiently and cost effectively we can remove infringements online (or even perform investigations) based on the available IP in different territories. If you don’t have a patent, consider something else; if you don’t have all the trademarks you need, consider how else you could enforce. I’ve been impressed with Pointer’s ability to think laterally on those issues from the start. They’ve got such a diverse team of people that there are always a range of solutions to suit the client and the situation.
I also find brand protection a very exciting and fulfilling space to move in to because ultimately we’re not just protecting brands but consumers too. We’re removing products that are not fit for purpose and which may be dangerous. And it’s not just products that we would immediately think of like personal care items. My daughter works in textiles and they have to go through a lot of different tests for plastic components on every item of clothing. Obviously when you’re looking at counterfeits they’re not going through the same rigorous tests as the bona fide products.
How do you see the future of the industry?
With the increased bandwidth we have now, especially with 5G being rolled out, there’s going to be significant impacts on artificial intelligence and the internet of things. These have a knock-on effect on brand protection in several ways. First, they alter the kind of services we can provide to our investigators and analysts. Faster and more comprehensive data retrieval and communication mean that we can progress investigations quicker, hopefully leading to better outcomes. Secondly, we’re increasingly able to provide comprehensive business information to our clients about things like geographical variations, retailer adherence and MAP policies. If we can use our technologies to inform the data-driven decisions that clients take, then we’re supporting the sale of genuine goods and thus fighting counterfeits too. Lastly, so many of the current changes are oriented towards mobile technologies that this is also going to create a big shift. It’s still playing out in terms of how e-commerce and mobile will fully interact, but any brand protection efforts must align with it.
Thanks, Marcus, and welcome!