QANTM IP Group: Professional conduct, ethical standards, and corporate governance

Many IP services firms in Australia have incorporated as companies, and a significant proportion (in excess of 25%) of registered patent attorneys in Australia and New Zealand are now employed by firms which are themselves part of corporate groups publicly listed on the ASX.

QANTM’s listed corporate group structure brings significant benefits to clients and to QANTM employees, with a dual ethical and governance overlay:

  • Each of the businesses within the QANTM IP Group acts in accordance with the normal professional conduct rules and ethical standards applying to them as professional services providers.
  • QANTM also operates to the rigorous corporate governance, disclosure and integrity standards applicable to companies publicly-listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The professional services businesses within the QANTM IP Group will always act in accordance with the law and in the best interests of their clients, and discharge their professional and ethical duties according to the following principles:

Primary duty to act in best interest of clients, and lawfully:

QANTM IP Group members will always prioritise their overriding duties to act in accordance with the law and in the best interests of their clients, over all other duties. There is never a right or expectation for any of these businesses, or the professionals employed by them, to act in the interests of QANTM or its shareholders in preference to clients’ interests. This is expressly recognized in QANTM’s Constitution.  The QANTM Constitution is available at http://qantmip.com/about-qantm/governance/, and Article 4 establishes the primacy of these professional duties.

Independence in provision of professional duties:

The Davies Collison Cave Group, FPA Patent Attorneys, Advanz Fidelis and ipervescence operate independently of each other in the provision of professional services to their clients, in full compliance with the law, professional standards, ethical duties, and codes of conduct.

Client confidential information protected:

Rigorous security and data protection protocols ensure that there is no sharing of client confidential information between Davies Collison Cave Pty Ltd, Davies Collison Cave Law Pty Ltd, FPA Patent Attorneys, Advanz Fidelis IP, and ipervescence Pty Ltd, and each maintains separate client files and records, and conducts matters separately.

Conflict management:

The professional services businesses within the QANTM IP Group adhere strictly to the law, professional standards, ethical rules and duties, including the Code of Conduct, in managing actual and potential conflicts of interest. Consistent with the requirements of the Code of Conduct, where a member of the QANTM Ownership Group is aware that a client of another QANTM Ownership Group member is involved in a matter before a court, tribunal, IP office or similar adjudicative body, and the clients’ interests are adverse, the QANTM Ownership Group member will only act where its client has given, in writing, its informed consent to the QANTM Ownership Group member so acting.

Lawyers’ professional conduct rules:

Employees of Davies Collison Cave Law Pty Ltd, and employees of other QANTM IP Group members who hold legal practicing certificates, act in addition in accordance with professional conduct rules and ethical standards applying to legal practitioners.

The Davies Collison Cave Group, FPA Patent Attorneys and Advanz Fidelis also operate from physically separate premises.

Public companies and corporate governance:

As a public company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QANTM is required to operate in compliance with the Australian Corporations Act and the Australian Securities Exchange Listing Rules. These regulations applying to public companies ensure the highest standards of corporate governance, risk management, transparency, integrity and accountability, and establish a level of public reporting and accountability with respect to governance and ethical management.

QANTM Group reports publicly each year on its compliance with the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations (Note 1).

The recommended governance practices relate to matters such as:

  • respective roles and responsibilities of board and management,
  • diversity policy and measurable objectives with respect to gender diversity,
  • director independence and conflicts,
  • acting ethically and responsibly,
  • use of an audit committee to independently verify and safeguard the integrity of corporate reporting, and
  • establishment of a sound risk management framework and periodic review of the effectiveness of that risk management framework, including with respect to risks such as cyber-security.

Investment by QANTM in technology, systems and processes enable the independent businesses within the QANTM IP Group to operate in an efficient and innovative way to support its clients and its people.

Note 1: The ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations is a set of recommended corporate governance practices developed by the ASX Corporate Governance Council (comprised of leading business, shareholder and industry groups in Australia – including:

  • the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia,
  • the Law Council of Australia,
  • the Business Council of Australia,
  • the Australian Institute of Company Directors,
  • CPA Australia,
  • the Institute of Public Accountants and
  • the Australian Financial Markets Association.

See https://www.asx.com.au/regulation/corporate-governance-council.htm.