Stefaans Gerber, Patent Liaison!
“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Van Wilder.
“It’s like meeting Stefaans Gerber and finding out he’s a Patent Attorney,” was in fact a line in Alanis Morrisette’s ‘Ironic’ single. But she had to remove it because all the other patent attorneys bombarded her with ‘cease and desist’ letters. Also, it didn’t rhyme. (‘Faans Gerberony’ didn’t work either.)
Stefaans heads up the Intellectual Property Law department at Barnard Inc. “Ever since being exposed to Intellectual Property law when I was in Matric, I decided then and there that I would become a patent attorney” he explains. “I got advice about IP law in matric and then decided to pursue an extra degree in the Sciences in order to be able to qualify as a patent attorney.” His determination meant that he’d spend the next ten years at University of the Free State collecting four degrees! Four degrees and a lot of friends! “Legend has it that the ‘Van Wilder’ movie was based on my life as a student,” Stefaans laughs. “Unfortunately, Ryan Gosling was bound by another movie agreement at the time which is why they had to settle for Ryan Reynolds.” Stefaans’s life may seem like two sides of a coin but both ends are driven by an insatiable tenacity to stand out, exceed expectations, work hard, play harder!
The ‘stand out’ bit in Stefaans has meant that even his route to being a patent attorney and his path to running a promising boutique IP practice has been an extraordinary one. “In becoming a patent attorney – against all odds – without the benefit of working in a firm that specialises in the IP field, it is extremely difficult to cultivate the necessary experience and procure the exposure necessary to qualify as an IP attorney.” Stefaans, however, wasn’t about to let that be a hindrance in reaching his goal. “So, I devised a plan to obtain the necessary exposure and experience and began the IP department at Barnard Inc and qualified without having to work for a firm specialising in IP.” It’s a move that’s given Stefaans’s team a unique perspective on the role of intellectual property rights within a commercial environment. “We’re not here to sell IP products and services. We’re here to add value to our clients’ businesses first and act as their legal partner in business.”
Stefaans’s ‘play harder’ quantum is easily described by his friends and colleagues. “He’s friendly, funny, very smart (added by Stefaans) and he has too many hobbies,” they report. “He’s also very loyal, driven and dedicated. He makes the worst and the best jokes! You never know which one you are going to get!” The Stefaans Gerber Survey Group (SGSG or ‘sug sug’) is asked to list his hobbies. “Guitar, woodturning, hunting, golf, cooking, a beer and whisky connoisseur,” they agree after much deliberation – and a few drinks. In fact, Stefaans also plays the piano, drums, bass, ukulele and saxophone!
Stefaans, who grew up in Bloemfontein, says his parents taught him the value of honesty, integrity, compassion and love. “They also taught me that quitting was not an option. When you decided that you were going to do something, we were taught to see it through,” he says. “My parents were great, complementary role models and played an important role in shaping who I am today. I am forever grateful.”
Stefaans Gerber, Leap Year Baby, Patent Attorney, Band Member, Best Friend and Chicken Cordon Bleu Chef is determined to keep building the innovative, fully functional and optimal IP department at Barnard Inc. Obviously it’s going to work!
Write that down!
Read more about Stefaans’ work here.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEFAANS!