29 January 2019

CPA merges with ipan/Delegate, boosts position in IP services

CPA Global has agreed to merge with rival IP management company ipan/Delegate Group.

The companies announced the deal yesterday, January 28, claiming it will “significantly improve” product integration and customer experience across the IP lifecycle. The terms of the transaction were not revealed.

Simon Webster, CEO of CPA, said his company has admired ipan/Delegate Group’s ability to deliver world-class technology and outstanding customer support, while a CPA spokesperson told WIPR that “it is business as usual” following the deal.

The agreement will allow ipan/Delegate Group to “further enhance our capacity to develop and deliver innovative services and software solutions for IP professionals”, according to Patrice Durand, CEO of the company.

The combined ipan/Delegate Group was formed in 2018 after ipan joined forces with Delegate—which itself was created in 2016 following the merger of Valipat and Envoy. The company has headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and Munich, Germany, offering services including renewals and annuities.

This is just CPA’s latest M&A in the IP renewals industry, having acquired the IP management business of Clarivate Analytics in October 2018 and buying the Filing Analytics and Citation Eagle tools from Practice Insight in August the same year.

CPA itself was sold to Leonard Green & Partners, a private equity firm, for £2.4 billion ($3.2 billion) in 2017.

Sally Whittle, formalities director and partner at HGF in Sheffield, UK, said the latest move appears to be an overarching attempt to consolidate the whole of the IP industry into one company, “purely for commercial and corporate scale, rather than as a driver for quality and innovation”.

Whittle, who uses UK-based IP services firm IP Centrum and said she will continue using the company, believes that IP firms who are already using what was Envoy/Valipat will probably stay on after CPA’s latest merger.

“It is time consuming to change provider, a bit like changing your bank, and people can’t be bothered with the hassle and worry if something gets missed,” she explained.

Simon de Banke, CEO of IP Centrum, said that while it’s not impossible for the new “Goliath” company to produce a world-class service, “the odds reduce dramatically with that kind of set-up in any industry”.

This is because there’s so much organising to do “in order to just make the ship function” and “there just doesn’t appear from the inside to be the same need, so this can breed an apathy and laurel-resting”, he argued.

De Banke said it’s “a shame” for the IP industry—one whose fulcrum and reason for existence is innovation— if the key area of it that can benefit from reinvention (IP services) becomes more and more consolidated.

But Glyn Truscott, a partner at UK-based Elkington + Fife, a firm that uses CPA, said commentators should caution against hyperbole when assessing this merger.

"I don’t see why the merger should have the negative effects suggested. Both CPA and ipan are very successful at what they do and already work on a large scale. From a user’s perspective, I do not see that this merger adds any particular concern in that regard."

He added that the success of the merged company will continue to rely on the company satisfying its customers.

Chris Donegan, managing director at Invention Capital Associates, which helps companies monetise their intangible assets, told WIPR that building of a dominant position in an unregulated niche market with strong annuity revenues—as renewal rates remain high for a variety of strategic and operational reasons—is a “classic value play”.

IP management “is an intriguing sub-sector that offers investors potentially outsized returns”, he added.

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4 October 2018   IP services provider CPA Global has acquired the IP management business of Clarivate Analytics, just months after buying market insight tool Filing Analytics and patent alert tool Citation Eagle.