Why the global IP management industry in 2021 is similar to what the transportation market was before Uber? Is there a way it can be disrupted by new tech? What are the flaws of the traditional intellectual property (IP) management and protection process? Let’s dive into the topic and try to understand how the new tech can solve these issues.
IP management market 2021 = taxi market 2005
Today, in-house intellectual property management requires enormous investments and so many companies worldwide outsource these tasks in the hope of cutting costs. However, today’s market lacks transparency and flexibility, which makes outsourcing no cheaper than in-house.
Global businesses need to protect their IP by getting trademarks and patents in multiple geographies with different regulatory practices. So, they hire IP attorneys who should help them. You can compare these professionals to taxi drivers in the before Uber era: their pricing is not transparent and can vary significantly for the same services, each attorney designs custom business processes, the customer does not fully own the IP-related data, and there is no way to prevent costly mistakes. Here is what the main issues on the market are:
Lack of transparency
For the customer, working with a single IP attorney may seem logical and convenient. This is because you have a single person that is into your IP management tasks. However, in reality, one person can’t physically solve all issues with international intellectual property.
However, in the current market, you can’t even know who will solve your tasks. The person may be a perfect professional in their country, say, in Europe, but have little experience protecting an IP in the US or Asia. As so, attorneys often outsource global IP management tasks to local professionals. As the process may require dealing with multiple government agencies or collecting additional data, these contractors can delegate some of their functions to sub-contractors.
Additional costs arise at every step of the process. Usually, up to 80% of the final price of a specific IP-related service may be formed by fees added by contractors and sub-contractors the customer even does not understand existed!
Outdated business processes
Every attorney has unique business processes, including payment terms and scheduling consultations. From the customer side, as the business grows and scales to different countries, the number of patents and trademarks grows simultaneously. It is hard to manage the whole list to understand what patents are pending, regions the renewal deadline is coming, etc. So, again, it may seem logical to hire an IP attorney that will manage that for you.
However, as it often happens, such an approach creates dependency and eliminates transparency. The attorney keeps records somewhere in their place or software; you need to send a request to see the part of it. If the attorney makes a mistake during the IP management process, you will never notice until the problem arises. And as said before, every attorney implements its own processes, so switching to another professional will incur additional friction and costs. As a result, companies tend to choose to stick with the attorney they know no matter how compelling and cost-efficient his work is.
Traditional IP management is irrelevant during the pandemic
According to the research, nearly 45% of law firms employees work at least 50% of their time remotely now, and 33% of professionals have switched to remote work completely. Most of the court and regulatory proceedings have adapted similarly. For example, the Patents Court of the UK and the US Supreme Court both held virtual proceedings in patent cases. IP authorities like the European Patent Office (EPO) and US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also held their proceedings online.
It became harder to conduct offline meetings and briefings, communications switched to online. And the traditional IP process is still primarily offline, including paperwork. There is a lack of tools that fuel online customer-attorney-regulators communications, making the whole problem-solving process longer. And its traditional inefficiency and vagueness lead to increased costs. Again.
Things are not that good for attorneys as well
The issues described above arise not because IP attorneys are evil or unscrupulous. Not at all! The industry gives them little tools to design a flexible, affordable, and convenient IP management process for their clients.
For an attorney, it is a big problem to tell the customer that the particular task should be assigned to someone else or set up automatic updates on all IP-related news to eliminate the need for constant consultations. Also, working with local authorities and government agencies is usually a complicated process. So, the simple task may take weeks to solve.
How technology can disrupt an IP management market
Happily, modern technologies can solve these issues. The main one to eliminate is the lack of transparency. Tools like iPNOTE give the customer freedom to choose and change an IP attorney. You can select the professional for your particular task in one click, no matter what the Geo or type of legal service you need. In addition, all documents are stored in your account so that you can instantly access them and manage all the paperwork or hire someone to do this for you.
Digital solutions are better suited for post-COVID communications and workflows. For example, the IP management software can use APIs local government agencies provide for the electronic document management to exchange data, send updates for customers, and for tasks for an attorney. This offers a significant productivity boost creating a single entry point for all international IP protection and management tasks.
For businesses, such technology unlocks easier, cheaper, and flexible intellectual property management. For the attorneys, this provides an opportunity to provide a high-quality service, keep revenues high while still keeping the price low for the end customer. In turn, regulators can increase the volume of documents processed electronically and eliminate the number of mistakes.
The intellectual property management market is set to disrupt a new tech just like it was with the transportation industry before. Technology will eliminate the lack of transparency, enormous costs for services that can be performed 50-80% cheaper and provide all market participants the level of flexibility that was unimaginable before.