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Historically, IP management was labour intensive and required considerable manual focus and attention of IP professionals.  However, with the recent explosion in IP data and changes to patent systems and laws, IP professionals are being forced to adapt– what does this mean for the future of IP management?

A new IP landscape

Simon Webster

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the scale and volume of patent filing is at an all-time high, challenging already overstretched IP departments and complicating the IP environment.

Policies are inconsistent across jurisdictions. New developments, such as the European Union unitary patent scheme, continue to emerge.  IP professionals need to understand the changing global landscape to gain the benefit of their IP in other countries.

Automation, outsourcing and IP management software (IPMS) now helpIP departments and legal firms manage their IP portfolio more efficiently.  As technical solutions become more sophisticated and efficient, IP professionals are afforded the time to consider bigger questions such as aligning IP processes with business strategy: “What is the value of this IP and in which countries?”; “How do I ensure my company is effectively protected?”; “What is missing from my IP portfolio?”.

A vision of the future

Across the four key phases of IP management – creation, protection, management and optimisation – new technology, automation, data availability and collaboration are combining to shape new IP management strategies.

The role of the future IP professional will be less about reactively protecting innovations, and more about proactively using insight to shape future decisions: product and service development; geographical expansion and the direction of research and development.The most progressive organisations will use insight from their own IP portfolio and the portfolios of others to drive the entire shape and direction of their business.

Creating valuable IP

The future of IP creation is about leaner, faster, more informed innovation.  Companies need to understand where the best opportunities lie for investment.  This insight can be gained from a deeper and more holistic understanding of both a company’s internal IP portfolio and its competitive landscape.

Companies now have instant access to more than 100 million patents in more than 150 countries.  Technologies such as cloud computing and machine learning, alongside easily available large data sets, enable insight to be generated quickly and at a low cost.

In an environment where up to 85% of a company’s value is based around its IP, this data will drive better decisions on where innovation should be targeted and how it should be completed.  This can transform how companies build value, effectively enabling them to innovate more efficiently and to quickly decide which forms of IP rights will support their portfolio most effectively.

Protecting valuable IP

Automation is already transforming the way IP protection takes place, providing companies with a far greater level of transparency and simplicity in capturing, nurturing and protecting ideas.  In the future filing will become significantly more automated and correspondence will be docketed automatically.  This will allow more time to be allocated to business strategy and drastically reduce the amount of human work, removing the capacity for human error.  In US Patent and Trademark Office data, for example, there are more than 800 different spellings of ‘International Business Machines’ in patent grants.  Automation will ensure this becomes a thing of the past.

Big data will also help drive detailed insight into IP protection.  Currently, a significant proportion of IP budget is spent on filing and prosecution.  The ability to remove filings with a low probability of success or commercial impact and increase the number of higher probability filings will help ensure more successful use of budgets, including ongoing R&D costs. This will enable a company to focus on where success is most likely to be achieved including: new products; technology; business strategy.

Managing valuable IP

Today, companies are starting to identify how much revenue an IP portfolio generates for an organisation.

Assessing a portfolio to understand and maximise value, leads to more informed decisions on issues such as:whether to retain patents when they are due for renewal; whether licencing or sale is the preferable option and which geographies and targets offer the best opportunities for IP exploitation.

When this information is combined with competitor portfolios and other external data, it can provide an overview to help shape future business strategy and innovation.  If emerging markets offer a lucrative new opportunity, then what is the filing environment and where are the opportunities?

Optimising IP portfolios

IP is already a key driver of mergers and acquisitions and the rush for the right IP assets will drive more strategic acquisitions in the future.  With global data sets on patents now available, including commercial data and company performance, businesses will be able to understand the likely value of an IP portfolio, what the cost of acquisition should be, and how it aligns with a company’s current portfolio.

IP professionals that can clearly identify the value of patents will be able to demonstrate this to the stock market and potentially create additional shareholder value.

The big money effect

The future of IP will involve making thoughtful and informed decisions, with large financial outcomes, in quick succession.  Identifying the true value of your IP requires efficiency and accuracy.  In finance, assessing and managing costs is crucial and dedicated forecasting tools help streamline the budgeting process for each patent, trademark and design application.

An IP Forecaster®,such as CPA Global’s service, uses live data, updated in real time from an international network of patent attorneys, andensures accuracy of information.  An IP Forecaster®service can be seamlessly integrated with an existing IT system and complex data transformed into customised reports.

The argument for IP professionals to be an integral part of more strategic business planning and development processes has never been stronger.Today’s IP management organisation must be flexible and efficient in collecting and vetting disclosures, performing prior art searches, and filing patent applications. Tomorrow’s winning patent will be filed within days of an idea’s original conception and innovators must act quickly.

The insight that can now be derived from properly analysed IP data – combined with external market information – can drive a more complete and granular overview of a company’s position in a market, geographic region or both.

The future of IP management is about closer alignment with the wider business strategy, using new technology and software to reduce human interaction and facilitate a more strategic role for the IP department.  Automation will be a key facet in the future of improved IP management and information.  Automated patent services will enable business professionals to better assess, measure and interpret IP data leading to more evidence-led decision support and strategy.

IP professionals have always been important to a business, but they now have a unique opportunity to extend their reach beyond the IP department, shaping boardroom strategy with insight that only they can provide.

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