Dealing with Intellectual Property (IP) management technology can be a huge headache for law firms and corporations. Most solutions have historically catered to paralegals, docketers, and administrative roles; they have not adequately addressed the specific needs of IP managers.
Today, many corporate IP departments and IP law firms use a fragmented combination of homegrown tools, vendor solutions, and ancillary services, which leads to poor communication and organization. This lack of cohesiveness wastes time, and most importantly can result in costly mistakes and delays.
Intellectual Property portfolio managers have found many IP management or docketing systems very problematic to access. Time-consuming login processes and high volume click paths make getting into the substance of an IP manager’s work difficult. It is also often impossible to access these tools on mobile devices. Today’s IP managers and IP attorneys are frequently on-the-go and work remotely, so dealing with an unreliable software solution is – at best – undesirable.
As IP managers need more advanced tools to leverage their intangible assets, it is critical that they adopt the right solutions to improve processes, conserve valuable resources, and free themselves from old, broken, and outdated systems. Outlined below are five common problems that many IP departments have faced, and a solution to achieving IP independence this year:
- Paper documentation is inefficient. Finding the proverbial needle in a haystack is all too real for IP teams with paper-based processes, and paper is still one of the most common mediums in IP Iaw and corporate departments. Locating a single necessary piece of paper amongst stacks of documents is time consuming and often proves fruitless, which means expending a wealth of time, resources, and energy still yields an incomplete task. Paper files are also difficult to track so, unless IP teams maintain multiple copies of a file, it can be nearly impossible to get information to stakeholders if the person in possession of a file is out of the office. This leads to all kinds of problems – from minor inconveniences to costly delays and missing critical deadlines.
How to be set free: Look for an IP application that provides a document management system or the ability to integrate with your existing solution. Further, look for a company that can offer scanning services and automated OCR and import of paper and electronic documents. This type of system scans each record to determine which patent, trademark, or other case the document applies to, tags it, and files it accordingly. Scanning services help with initial data migration and for ongoing scanning of PTO documents and other IP correspondence.
- IP team gets bogged down with administrative tasks. Both law firm and corporate IP teams are feeling the push by clients and/or internal stakeholders to enhance productivity and work output with the expectation of doing more with less. Time is highly valuable, which is why teams of support staff are employed to complete administrative tasks in order to free up time for more substantive work. Unfortunately, without an application that provides true process automation throughout the full IP lifecycle, attorneys end up performing much of the administrative work around researching, drafting, and prosecuting high-quality patent and trademark applications.
How to be set free: Implement a secure, web-based solution with tools for related art search and review, IDS management, application drafting, and prosecution. This allows an entire IP team to work more efficiently and effectively no matter where they are globally.
- Communication is lacking. Without a comprehensive, web-based application, miscommunication is almost guaranteed. This is an issue that no IP department can afford. Getting everyone in multiple different offices up-to-speed and on the same page with projects often requires time-consuming meetings and conference calls to discuss topics like prosecution performance, IP reviews, and innovation sourcing. IP teams that cannot streamline processes risk varying degrees of failure down the road.
How to be set free: A unified IP management solution integrates with communication platforms like Outlook and workflow modules provide streamlined workspaces to ensure one single source of truth and structures communication between internal teams and external stakeholders.
- Working remotely and with a global team is impossible. What happens in the office stays in the office – at least that’s the case when your organization doesn’t utilize a web-based IP management tool. So when you’re traveling, or working from home, or an unexpected emergency prevents you from getting into the office, you don’t have access to the documents and information you need.
How to be set free: Alleviate this headache with a cloud-based IP management solution that brings research, application drafting, prosecution, workflow, collaboration, and document/email management into a unified system. This type of platform enables IP departments to access secure information while on a mobile device. It also gives them the ability to assign work tasks to employees in other office locations with one click.
- The business doesn’t measure success. Without complete transparency and tools that track how an individual employee’s work supports different departments or initiatives, it’s difficult for management to adequately understand and report that person’s impact on – and contributions to – the organization.
How to be set free: Using a modern IP management platform allows your organization to track the work of all its employees. Today’s systems provide automated workflows, assignment tracking, and performance reporting. This enables staff, attorneys, and management to share a collaborative environment for the entire lifecycle of their work from initial research, through application drafting, to prosecution, and portfolio management.
The resources required to scout, purchase, implement and learn a new tool might seem daunting, but the investment pays big dividends.
Bad IP management systems have failed IP managers and IP attorneys for years, but do not let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. Investing in tools that are designed to meet your specific needs, that streamlines work processes, and improves communication, and allows them to work from anywhere – will enable them maximize both their productivity and their value to the organization.