Downtown Toronto at sunset. Photo: Shutterstock

In a unique tie-up, the Canadian affiliate of international intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk is combining with Toronto-based IP boutiques Sim & McBurney and Sim Ashton & McKay to create a full-service IP practice north of the border.

The merger, which is set to go live on Tuesday, will create two separate entities. Marks & Clerk Canada will provide patent and trademark agency services. Another outfit, Marks & Clerk Law, will specialize in IP legal services, such as commercial law and IP litigation.

The combination came as a result of longtime contacts and work between the two firms, said Maureen Kinsler, international chair of London-based Marks & Clerk.

“We’ve known and trusted them for a long time,” said Kinsler, who works out of the firm’s office in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Marks & Clerk is a 131-year-old firm co-founded by Sir Dugald Clerk, a Scottish engineer who invented the two-stroke engine, that has more than 200 legal practitioners spread across its 16 offices worldwide. The firm first made inroads in Canada nearly a century ago when it established an office in Ottawa, the first Marks & Clerk outpost outside the U.K.

Sim & McBurney and Sim Ashton & McKay were founded in Toronto in 1970. The latter is a partnership of IP and commercial litigators that represents clients in various Canadian courts, while the former is a separate partnership of patent and trademark agents that file and prosecute patents, trademarks and industrial designs in the U.S. and Canada.

The two Canadian firms, which have a combined 14-lawyer team that will grow to 28 following the union with Marks & Clerk Canada, have worked together to provide a full range of IP services to clients that include major companies such as Nokia Oyj, Verizon Communications Inc. and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Marks & Clerk’s Kinsler said that the combination with Sim & McBurney and Sim Ashton & McKay doubles her firm’s geographic footprint in Canada and capitalizes on the common practices between all three firms.

“This was just something that really made sense for us both in terms of the synergies of the business [and] expanding and continuing our investment in the Canadian market,” said Kinsler, who joined Marks & Clerk in 2002 from London-based patent firm Kilburn & Strode.

The merger involving Marks & Clerk Canada, Sim & McBurney and Sim Ashton & McKay is the latest legal services tie-up in Canada so far this year.

Earlier this month, leading Canadian firm Bennett Jones doubled the size of its Vancouver office by acquiring a dozen lawyers from local corporate and securities boutique McCullough O’Connor Irwin. Fasken, another large Canadian firm formerly known as Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, also expanded its Vancouver office in February after bolting on local corporate and commercial boutique Roxwal Lawyer.