Stewart Clarke

Stewart Clarke

I believe that The University of Manchester gives a real-world focused eduation to its students so they gain the ability to thrive in industry.

Current position: Project Manager, Legal

Company: Tern Bicycles


What is your current role and your main responsibilities?

I effectively run the IP holdings of the company and have two key roles in product development. The first is when we are licensing technologies and the other is when we're developing new prorprietary technologies.

In the first I normally meet with and negotiate a license agreement with the technology owner before we integrate the technology into our product line.

In the second, I will perform patent searches and steer the development path away from patented tech and towards open or novel solutions as well as assessing whether we should apply for either defensive or offensive patents. If we do decide to patent a new idea or technology, I work with the various law firms around the work to draft the patent specification and prosecute the patent.

At the end of the product cycle, I also work with the marketing team to develop product names based on their availability as trademarks or potential conflict and arrange the registration of these names as trademarks as appropriate. Then I will also work with the marketing, art and product teams to ensure our product and packaging is legally compliant before it is sold and shipped worldwide.

Outside of product development, I monitor the market for use of our IP and after assessing any potential infringement of our patents, designs, trademarks, or copyright strategize the most appropriate response.    

Please summarise your overall career since graduation, but in particular, what was your first relevant role to the area in which you work now and how did you secure that position?

After graduating from Manchester I wanted to travel and do something fulfilling in the real world so trained as an ESL teacher and got a one way flight to Indonesia, there I taught in variety of schools to a variety of students while saving up money to travel.

I taught and travelled for a few years before settling in Taiwan (ROC) and landed a job as an editor in a patent law firm. I was trained by the firm to write and edit patents as well as proof read all commercial correspondance. After three years, and completion of a postgraduate certificate in IP, I was the senior editor responsible for all commercial correspondance as well as the 'commerical voice' (marketing tone) of the company, and worked with a team of over 20 engineers/scientists in four cities.

After four years of working in the law firm I moved to my current job where I have built upon and developed my IP skills further and am now doing a graduate law conversion course to assist my understanding of contract law.  

How has your qualification helped you in your career?

Without a degree I could not have obtained a visa to teach ESL overseas as an undergraduate degree is the first requirement in each country where I have taught.

Then, when recruited by the law firm and indeed to work in IP you need a technical degree so again without this I would not have been able to take the job or be accepted on training schemes.

More importantly, the training I received at Manchester helped me to communicate difficult technical concepts clearly, which is essentially all a patent is so has been the foundation of my entire career.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

I have been listed as the inventor on two different patents and assisted in the development of countless other technologies, but the most impressive achievement has been working in this team to bring the world leading folding bicycle to market.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing a similar career route and what skills/experience do you consider to be necessary?

I don't think that when you set out working towards a career that you ever know what the exact result of each step will be or what you will learn. Therefore, I would recommend two things; firstly stay flexible and be willing to adapt to any new challenge that may present itself, and secondly always be willing to learn. I have spent the last four years doing postgraduate study in my spare time and it has helped my work directly as well as giving more power to my work experience.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Manchester?

I really enjoyed the times between classes hanging out with other chemistry students in the Rock Café. We would sit in there and work through any issues we were having with our studies or personal lives or just chill between lectures and have some fun.

Why would you recommend the University as a good place to study?

I believe that The University of Manchester gives a real-world focused eduation to its students so they gain the ability to thrive in industry.

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