Saiful Khan

Partner - Patents

What was your first ever job? 

Two summer jobs when I was 16 - maths tutoring and working in the kitchen in a takeaway restaurant. 

How did you get involved in intellectual property and what first attracted you to the field? 

I did not know much about it, but I was exploring career options towards the end of my PhD (research, engineering industry and management consultancy were options I was actively considering). My wife found a job opportunity listed in the university vacancy sheet and I had heard about the profession from my father. 

Having a mix of technology, law and commerce, together with the opportunity to learn and have a recognised qualification, were important in considering IP as a viable career option. I got a sense during the interview process that I would feel comfortable working with the people I was talking to and so I decided to give it a go. 

When did you join Potter Clarkson and why? 

1 October 2004. After three years of being back in London to begin my IP career in private practice, I decided to move out of London to work in industry. After around three years, I started to think about whether I should make the move back into private practice. However, I knew I did not want to go back to London. Coincidentally, a recruitment consultant came to me with an opportunity at Potter Clarkson, a company that I had considered at the time of moving to industry. 

What is your area of speciality and why did you choose it? 

My academic qualifications are in engineering and materials. However, I had moved to industry to widen my experience to include software, so I now work in the fields of engineering as we well as electronics and software.

I have always looked for the interest and challenges provided by variety. I also wanted to be able to apply the principles I had learned through my education to areas of technology that would arise in the future and so wanted to have a solid, wide general background. 

What does a typical day in your role entail and what do you most enjoy about it/find most challenging? 

Things have changed over time. When I started off, I was very much sitting down, analysing and producing work that would be reviewed by others, and most days were very much like this. Now, it is difficult to say that there is a typical day. Sometimes the day is full of internal meetings, and other days are filled with client or prospective client meetings or giving seminars or workshops. Other times, I am speaking with colleagues about the work they are doing and strategizing the best course of action. Preparing for and representing clients at hearings is also an important part of some days, as is making sure the detail is understood. Other days are a mix of all of these and more.

However, a central part of the job is still to make sure the analysis and work that we put out for our clients is correct and appropriate for their needs. It is always challenging keeping on top of the volume and variety of work and making sure each output is the best we can do. A deadline is never far away!

The job does come with its pressures, but client appreciation and the support of colleagues are big positives.

What has been the highlight of your career at Potter Clarkson so far? 

It is difficult to say that there has been one highlight. The ability to give back is something I have enjoyed and appreciated. I have found it really satisfying being able to train and guide people and am proud to have personally supported so many people in the firm to full qualification.  

I also enjoy meeting people from all over the world and being able to represent the profession and firm at international gatherings. It really is an honour and privilege to be in a profession with high standards where each of us, wherever we may be, are striving to support the needs of our clients. 

What advice would you give anyone looking to enter the field? 

It is a challenging but rewarding career. Be prepared to do a lot of self-study at home, particularly in the early years. Professional exams are different to academic exams so do make sure you think about how to apply the knowledge you are acquiring to real world scenarios. Also be prepared to have to hit deadlines and take responsibility for getting things right, day-in, day-out.