Anton Blijlevens celebrates 30 years in IP

News  \  12 Mar 2024

In February Anton Blijlevens, a Principal in AJ Park's Engineering & ICT team, celebrated 30 years both in IP and at AJ Park. To mark this significant milestone, we sat down with Anton to talk about how his career in IP began and how the industry has changed since that time, as well as reflect on some of his proudest career moments. 

What led you to a career in IP and a role at AJ Park? 

I had just graduated from Canterbury University engineering school and had been offered a job as an engineer at a kitset housing company when I saw an ad in the newspaper for a role in the patents team at AJ Park in Wellington. This was well before the days of email, and it took a while for my letter to make it to the office manager (the term "HR" had definitely not been invented yet).

It took about a month to get a reply; the position was still available, but in the Auckland Office. I was flown to Auckland, had a 30-minute interview with Ken Moon and David Jones and was offered the job at the end of the interview. Definitely no modern-day HR procedures were followed - in fact, David drove me back to the airport via the scenic route to convince me to move from Christchurch to Auckland!

What do you think has been the biggest change in IP over the 30 years you've worked in the industry? 

The biggest change I have seen is how innovation is enabling innovation. And at exponential rates.

Software and computers and telecommunicate changes have allowed innovation to be done faster and cheaper. High tech innovation is no longer the domain of companies that can afford what used to be called a Main Frame computer, which were the size of a large garage or bigger. This change has allowed early-stage companies to create meaningful and valuable innovations and compete on a global scale without the immense financial resources that were once required.

Additionally, the democratization of information and the rise of the internet have facilitated collaboration and knowledge-sharing, further accelerating the pace of innovation. As a result, we're witnessing a proliferation of new ideas and technologies across diverse industries, transforming the landscape of intellectual property and fostering an environment ripe for exponential advancements.  

What are some of the proudest achievements of your career up to this point? 

I have a few. One is about sharing my knowledge which I love to do. By teaching others, I have learnt a lot myself.

I created a 5-day long patent drafting course that I delivered annually for eight years in developing countries in Asia to help upskill trainee patent attorneys in the region. About 150 people in total attended the course. This also led me to becoming involved in a similar course for the United Nations across the region, which took me to places like Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Macau and many other countries. 

The other proud achievement was being asked by AJ Park’s partners to move to Singapore to be the first AJ Parker to work with a Singapore IP firm that AJ Park was keen to partner with. This was back in 2002 when I was a Senior Associate. AJ Park’s venture into Singapore lasted for six years until the GFC made it difficult to continue.  

What would your biggest piece of advice be to your younger self? 

Don’t underestimate the power of continuous learning and adaptation. The field of intellectual property is constantly evolving, and staying adaptable and open-minded is essential for long-term success in this dynamic industry.  There is never a dull moment in IP.

What are your interests outside of work? 

Windsurfing is my passion. It's just as well that I didn't get hired for the role in Windy Wellington as I may not have been that focused on my career! I also love sailing and plan to sail the South Pacific when I retire. I’m running my 5th marathon in May this year. I love snowboarding and have recently discovered Japan for its deep powder snow, something I will cherish when I get older for helping to soften the falls. I still enjoy playing basketball but am a bit slower than when I played for Canterbury!

I've played in a few bands and in fact several have been IP industry bands, including two AJ Park bands (Exit Strategy and Unjustified Threats, which was known for a short while as Joy Divisional). I have just moved to a lifestyle block and spend a lot of time in my workshop building and fixing stuff and doing landscaping.

And last, but most important, is my family, I enjoy spending time with my teenage boys and my wife, including supporting her in her career in IP. It’s actually been a very symbiotic relationship in that regard and her support of my career is something I’m grateful for.


Congratulations, Anton, on a remarkable career. We're very glad you chose intellectual property over house building and look forward to seeing what the next 30 years have in store!

Related insights