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CPA Global Acquires First To File
Law Technology News
In a move that could shake up the intellectual property management field, CPA Global last week acquired IP-focused document management company First To File Inc., officials confirmed Tuesday.
Officials with CPA Global originally Computer Patent Annuities, based in Jersey, U.K. said a formal announcement is due Wednesday. They declined to disclose financial terms of the deal. FTF has about 20 employees and all but CEO James Bergeron will join 1,500-employee CPA Global, officials said.
First To File's main product is a document management system called EFR (Electronic File Room). CPA offers patent services such as search and valuation, along with four specific intellectual property management applications: FoundationIP (cloud-based software), Inprotech (for law firms), Ipendo (originally focused on European companies and recently expanded into the U.S.), and Memotech (for corporations).
CPA chief technology officer Mark Holt discussed his company's plan with Law Technology News. "Almost all of our clients, when they deploy our products, will also deploy some form of document management," he said. "What we find is that each of our clients spends an inordinate amount of time doing the same thing. Several of our clients said to us, 'We'd love you to build something that does exactly what First To File does'."
CPA and First To File, of San Mateo, Calif., previously integrated their products through application programming interfaces, Holt noted. The combined company will continue to let customers use any document management system they want, and will continue to provide APIs for mainstream systems such as Autonomy iManage and Microsoft SharePoint, he said. "We'll remain agnostic," Holt said. "We recognize that people have spent a lot of money."
Currently, First To File documents integrate with CPA products, Holt explained. But he'd like to see customers manage First To File documents from within CPA products, with support for language translation.
Matthew Goodwin, chief patent counsel and global head of patents at consumer products giant Unilever, said his company implemented First To File's EFR system in 2010 and now has more than 20,000 patent matters in the system.
Goodwin, based in Trumbull, Conn., said the additional product integration and translation features sound useful, and that ultimately he's hoping EFR gains traction from agents and patent offices. First To File has had good customer support, he said. Now, as they become part of a bigger company, he plans to watch closely for any changes.
"I think on a more foundational level, what we really want to see in the short term is strong customer support and responsiveness," Goodwin noted. Unilever also uses software from CPA competitor Computer Packages Inc., he said.
Ralph Schroeder, managing partner at Sugar Land, Texas-based Hyperion Research, follows the IP management sector and said he believes First To File was at a crossroads. "I think they sort of got to a point where they did as much as they could, and they were either going to need to bring in a significant amount of capital to take it to the next level … or selling," he explained.