Anaqua and Lecorpio merger revealed; CEO pledges to “create something that doesn’t currently exist”

World Trademark Review
Friday, July 28, 2017

By Trevor Little

Anaqua and Lecorpio have announced they are to merge, with Anaqua CEO Bob Romeo talking exclusively to World Trademark Review about how the combined company will “provide something that has never before been done in our space”. The move is the latest in a wave of acquisitions to hit the IP services market – but it is unlikely to be the last as competition for trademark spend heats up.

The announcement of the tie-up between management and analytics solutions provider Anaqua and software company Lecorpio was made last night, with the deal having closed last Friday. The press release states that the newly combined company “will focus on powering corporations and law firms with the tools to streamline operations, gain insight, and maximize the value of IP assets”, in particular the accelerated delivery of “the next generation of smart IP platforms to its 1,000 combined customers worldwide”.

Speaking to World Trademark Review, Bob Romeo, CEO of Anaqua (who will lead the combined business) expanded on how this “next generation” platform will be approached: “We believe we will be able to provide something that has never before been done in our space. We have both been spending a lot of time and effort on big data and analytics so when we talk about a smart platform, what we want to be able to provide information and answers to questions throughout the workflow, from cradle to grave. That includes creating value, licensing and protecting assets. Nobody else does that today. IP is becoming the greatest value on a company balance sheet and our task is to help customers maximise that value.”

The companies will continue to operate under separate brand names and support both software platforms, but Romeo told us that there will ultimately be convergence: “What we will set out to do is take a deep dive into each of our respective offerings and strengths, and then create something that doesn’t currently exist. So in the near term we will support both platforms, but over time we want to create a next generation product. We believe that the value proposition will be so great that there will be a natural migration of customers to that new platform.” With that converged future in mind, he confirmed that marketing and outreach will now be a combined effort amongst the two brands, rather than each operating separately.

M&A activity in the IP services sector often comes in waves. In 2013, for example, we observed that – in a spell that lasted a little over six months -- a flurry of major acquisitions saw CPA Global acquire document systems provider First To File, Corporation Service Company snap up the digital brand services division of Melbourne IT, and Thomson Reuters CompuMark take over both Canadian outfit Onscope’s trademark business and German search company Eucor. Meanwhile, Wolters Kluwer Corporate Legal Services purchased research company Avantiq.

Things appeared to have settled down, but recently there has been rumours of possible mergers and sales that have grabbed media headlines. In October last year, for example, Thomson Reuters completed the headline $3.55 billion sale of its IP services business – now named Clarivate Analytics – to Hong Kong-based Baring Asia and Canada’s Onex Corporation. Meanwhile, media reports suggest that the owner of CPA Global is exploring a possible sale or floatation of the business, with a mooted £2 billion price tag.

Asked if the Anaqua-Lecorpio deal is part of a new wave of market moves, Romeo responds: “I don’t know that we are in a period of consolidation. The Thomson Reuters sale of Compumark was part of a bigger deal and, yes, there are reports that CPA are looking for new owners. But this was an opportunity that came about as we thought about how we separate ourselves from the rest of the market. We are bringing the companies together as we believe it gives us an opportunity to do that.”

It also creates an opportunity to expand its international footprint, with competition for the trademark dollar heating up globally, particularly in Asia. As we have previously reported, Jean Eric Salata, CEO and founding partner at Baring, outlined his vision for Clarivate that takes advantage of the “differentiated growth opportunity” presented by the Asian market. Meanwhile, earlier this month, CPA itself announcedan undisclosed investment in Korean IP services provider Markpro, a move designed to strengthen its specific presence in Korea and China.

Romeo confirms that future expansion is being eyed, but maintains that the merger is not specifically designed to facilitate a new territorial game-plan: “One of the beauties of the combination is that Lecorpio is fairly US-centric, and has entered the European market more over the past year or so. Meanwhile, Anaqua has a long history of being in the European market, as well as the US. So we are bringing the best of both together. And in the past 18 months we have opened an office in Tokyo. Anaqua has a strong footprint in Asia – we have clients in Japan, Taiwan and China – and we believe we are one of the more successful commercial providers of IP management software in the Asia market. So we are going to expand that, and continue to expand our presence in Europe. This isn’t about ‘new’, it’s about continuing to expand what we have.”  

The recent flurry of market moves means that the competition for customers is intensifying, with newly combined or resourced companies seeking to flex their muscles and consolidate their market positions. The key battleground will be product differentiation. In that respect, at the INTA Annual Meeting in May, CPA Global presented its new data-driven IP Platform, while Corsearch provided us with a first look at its upcoming Contour offering, which draws on big data algorithms to guide the naming process. Meanwhile this week’s combination is promising unique offerings.

A focus on innovative tools, driven by new ways to use data and technology, should be to the benefit of trademark practitioners – as long as market consolidation doesn’t reduce price competitiveness and drive prices up. The one certainty is that brand professionals will be hearing a lot more about ‘big data’ and ‘artificial intelligence’ in the coming months