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Doing more with less is the default position for IP professionals. 

In discussions with senior IP executives recently at our IGNITE! 2018 customer event, many companies spoke of IP management budgets that had not increased in a decade.


Addressing the challenge of more from less

This is challenging enough.  However, when considered against the extraordinary growth in the volume of IP being protected, the issue becomes even more acute.  According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) patent filings have grown 70% and trademark filings have doubled in the last ten years.

The pace of innovation will not slow down.  Corporate IP departments are being more careful over their choice of what to protect, driven by managing more with less and the need to demonstrate return on investment. When they do decide to protect an idea, they are looking to do it fast.  Companies and the law firms that represent them are racing to protect ideas, sometimes only to find them already protected by others. 

Bringing digital to IP

The biggest industry challenge remains that 21st century innovators have to rely on 19th century practices to generate IP protection.  The IP industry has not been changed by digital nearly enough.

Think about digital’s impact on financial services.  Today, the instant you withdraw money from an ATM or pay for something with a credit card it is reflected on your mobile app.  This is a connected digital system providing users with a fully integrated solution in real time. 

The IP industry relies on technology as a channel to communicate – IP protection instructions are sent by email rather than post - but it has yet to offer a fully integrated ecosystem.  In an environment where time matters, this is 2019s most important challenge.  Patent offices measure time in months.  It needs to be measured in days or hours.  This can only be achieved though digital transformation.

Resistance to change

Another key theme that emerged from our customer event round tables was fear of and reluctance to change.  As one participant put it: “Every time we talk about changing practices, people immediately assume that means less people and jobs at risk.”  Digital transformation should not mean less jobs.  It should mean different jobs.  Despite the vast transformation of the financial services sector in the past decade, a similar number of people work in the industry as ten years ago.  Less of them are counting money in high street branches of banks, but the volume of roles has not fallen.

Change agents are critical in ensuring a team fully adopts the potential of digital.  At CPA Global we recognise we have a big role to play here.  We exist to take the hassle out of IP and to simplify the complex.  The message from our customers is clear: show us how you have helped others to achieve this and help us on our journey.

Insight driving new opportunities

IP professionals are increasingly challenged to demonstrate return on investment and insight from digital data can help achieve this.  The most up to date IP departments and law firms are analysing IP data to drive insight – be it return on IP investment and R&D or to discover relevant partners or acquisition targets based on IP insight.  Others are analysing litigation results to uncover the most effective law firms or combining demographic and geographic information with IP data to determine the best jurisdictions to file.    Our role within the industry is to facilitate this - one of the reasons we have made strategic investments in companies such as Filing Analytics and Citation Eagle in 2018, further supporting the services offered by Innography. 

The future of IP

Our vision is to lead the digital transformation of the IP industry.  We want to liberate the world’s ideas creators and the IP experts behind them to enhance their roles, giving them the tools to be pivotal to the future direction of the companies they work for.  We want to support law firms to deliver more insightful counsel to their clients.  We want to bring the industry together – law firms and corporates – and enable both to thrive through smart applications of digital technology that deliver what the IP industry needs.

Conclusion

Ideas should inspire awe.  Ideas should be exciting.  Ideas should start changing the world quickly.  Our mission is to help ensure this is always the case, making complexity simple, driving improved insight, reducing friction and enabling IP professionals to have the most rewarding and inspiring work possible.