NEWS & EVENTS
Building blocks for success
Chris Vigars, Managing Director of Astrum explains why he selected Patricia as the IP management software for his growing law firm.
Firms of all sizes need to make a clear case for implementing a new IT system. Such systems are profoundly important in supporting the core business of the firm and, therefore, decisions need to be taken carefully and with suitable consideration.
Confidence underpins the relationship that a private practice firm has with its clients, and this confidence starts with the professional quality of the attorneys and the advice they dispense. However, in an administration-heavy field such as patent and trademark prosecution, the quality of the case management systems and processes is an equally important aspect of a firm’s ability to gain the confidence of its clients.
When it came to my start-up firm [Element One IP, now Astrum], my underlying aim was to minimize risk and build confidence. The implementation of a full case management package from day one has contributed to achieving this aim.
SELECTING THE SYSTEM AND THE VENDOR
At ElementOne, the decision-making process for choosing the software was straightforward. I decided that it was necessary to have a solution that would work without customization, since we did not have the resources available, but that could be customized over time. We selected the Patricia® system from Patrix Intellectual Property Helpware, with offices in the US and Europe.
IMPLEMENTATION AND CUSTOMIZATION
Having selected a suitable base product, it is tempting to want to customize that product in such a way that it reflects existing systems and work patterns. However, the change of system presents an excellent opportunity to review and improve existing work practices.
In my view, there is no substitute for in-depth and detailed understanding of the product, so I spent many hours understanding the concepts and underlying operation of the product as delivered, so that any customization could be made in a suitably long-term manner. ‘Long-term’ is the important element in that last sentence – spending time and effort in the early stages of implementation pays handsome dividends later on.
PREDICTING ISSUES: INTEGRATION AND PERSONNEL
Particularly for larger organisations, integrating with existing applications is a significant issue that also needs careful consideration. Since accounting and customer relationship management systems may be in use, it is important that the IP case management system can integrate into the existing technologies.
The impact on the users of the new system should also not be underestimated. It is often the case that users have great experience of the existing systems, and so it is important to recognize this and provide training in advance of implementation, as well as follow-up support.
Choosing, developing and implementing an IP case management system constitutes a large undertaking that needs careful consideration and planning. In my experience, the areas requiring most thought are selecting the vendor and dealing with personnel issues. The vendor must have a team in place with whom you and your team can work effectively and productively. In my experience, I know that my choice of the Patricia® system and Patrix as a partner was the right one.
To read more about the process of selecting and implementing Patricia, including the processed followed by Chris Vigars when selecting an IP management system at his previous law firm Haseltine Lake, read the full case study or get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Implement an IP Management System
Implementing a sophisticated IP management system is a multifaceted project for organizations of any size. Large businesses or law firms must overcome the challenges associated with existing procedures and personnel, while smaller organizations are primarily concerned with the resources necessary for successful implementation. Prepare to succeed with our five-step guide.
STEP 1: TAKE A STEP BACK
You’ve done the hard work required to choose the best software solution and vendor for your business, but really the process is only just beginning. Before you plunge straight in, take the time first to step back and remind yourself of your goals by looking at the criteria you prepared at the very start of the selection process. It’s tempting to want to customize your new product to reflect your existing systems and work patterns to get it live as quickly as possible, but this change in system might actually be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to review and improve existing work practices.
STEP 2: PLAN AND PREPARE
Organization is vital to successful implementation, both in advance of any customization and on the big day itself. Spending time and effort in the early stages of implementation adapting the set-up will pay back handsome dividends later on. Similarly, data cleansing before conversion work begins will make sure that you go live with accurate and reliable data.
STEP 3: TEST AND IMPLEMENT
Think about what would work best for your business, rather than what is expected by the vendor. In addition to the preparatory work outlined in step 2, it is advisable to plan enough time between the test conversions to allow for thorough testing.
STEP 4: DON'T FORGET TO SUPPORT THE NEW USERSThe switch-over to a new system is a major achievement, but you also need to make sure that the people using it, really know how to use it. Regular updates and communication throughout the process is important, as is providing helpdesk and support functions once the system goes live.
STEP 5: MAXIMIZE THE CAPABILITIES AND BENEFITS
IP management software shouldn’t be a static system. To maximize the benefits, continuous development, through technical enhancements and employee training, is recommended. Additional projects could also include integration with other enterprise software (e.g. accounting/CRM) not included in the initial implementation.
For more tips and advice on selecting and implementing the best IP management software for your company or law firm, speak to Patrix today.
How to Select an IP Management System
Making the decision to upgrade your IP docketing system is only the first stage of the process. You also need to be sure to select the best solution for your business. Make the right choice with our five-step guide.
STEP 1: SET OUT THE BUSINESS CASE
‘Why do we need to change?’ It’s a question you likely asked yourself at the beginning of the process, and it’s certainly one that you will get asked by your corporate board or the senior partners in your law firm the moment you raise the possibility of upgrading or replacing your existing IP management system.
Make your proposal as compelling as possible by setting out clearly the potential benefits to the IP department (and business as a whole) of more secure and streamlined IP asset management, as well as the risks associated with your legacy system. Commonly, these include shortfalls in data security or legal compliance, a lack of support or investment by the vendor, and restrictions in system access, technical capabilities or interoperability with related business software.
STEP 2: CHART INTERNAL PROCESSES
Get to grips with requirements for the new system before you start putting the call out to vendors to pitch for the work. Seek to track the complete workflow for IP matters in your organization, from who’s involved to where the data is currently held, and how the ‘back office’ admin tasks are currently managed. By plotting all the different touch-points, you will be able to specify clearly the size and geographical reach of your portfolio, and the different types of access required for your new system. You’ll also find out more about how IP matters are run in your business or law firm, thereby identifying potential areas for improvement and increased efficiency.
STEP 3: SET OUT CRITERIA FOR SHORTLIST AND SELECTION
Generally, the criteria guiding the decision-making process will be a mix of objective and subjective factors. Objective considerations tend to include cost, implementation time and resources, as well as the availability of those resources both within your organization and that of the vendor. Subjective factors, on the other hand, might include the reputation of the vendor and/or its client base, the ability to customize/configure the software, the training/support on offer, and the relationship with the vendor itself (essentially: ‘Do I like them?’).
The software and the supplier go hand in hand, so selecting the right vendor is as important as selecting the right software. Just as importantly, ongoing development by the supplier is key to protecting the investment you are making in their software.
Good questions to ask when selecting a vendor include:
- How do they support the implementation of the system?
- What is the average implementation time for this type of project?
- What type of data conversion assistance is provided?
- Do they update country and law information on a regular basis?
- Is there a Service Level Agreement for support and problem management?
- Are they open and willing to assist in the creation of new or special features, if required?
- Do they have an active user group and is it possible to influence the development through this channel?
- Do they understand the current and future needs of an IP law firm or department?
It is advisable to talk to people in the IP field who have been down this path, and to check the references provided by each vendor on your shortlist.
STEP 4: CREATE AN INTERNAL PROJECT TEAM
… and involve them in the shortlisting process from the beginning. Buy-in and support are crucial to the implementation of new software, and associated ways of working, no matter which area of the business you work in. For heads of IP departments, however, it is arguably more important, as you’ll need to take your entire team with you on this process, as well as associated functions, such as R&D, finance, back office/admin and IT.
By involving representatives from all these stakeholders from the very beginning, you will also likely pick up valuable insight into the IP processes within your organization, which will also help to drive fact-finding. Consider for example: What other benefits could the software offer that you may not have considered? What are other businesses areas using or doing that you could perhaps learn from?
STEP 5: ASK FOR SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS
Seek to shortlist two-three vendors for final presentations based on the potential offered to your business of their software. However, when it comes to those final presentations, make sure those vendors present and demo on the topics of most importance to you. Ask for specifics on how their solutions might handle situations that are important to your processes or future business plans (for example, correspondence management, collaborators’ access platforms, budgeting and cost prediction functionality, automated batch handling, portfolio import tools or data security) and ask those presenting, in particular, to advise on how much customization is possible, desirable or necessary for your unique needs.
Those presentations should help you to whittle your choices down to a final vendor. If you’re still not sure, make sure to select a company willing to ‘go the extra mile’ and a software that will meet your needs tomorrow, as well as today.
For more tips and advice on selecting and implementing the best IP management software for your company or law firm, speak to Patrix today.
4 Reasons Why It May Be Time to Upgrade Your IP Management Software
Just because your existing IP management systems and practices work, doesn’t mean they can’t be improved. The right IP software should provide your business with a competitive edge, by streamlining processes, introducing efficiencies and delivering the insight necessary to drive decision-making. Here are four signs that it may be the time to upgrade your IP support system.
1. THE TECHNOLOGY'S GETTING OLD
Technology evolves quickly, and your business’s IP support tools should too. If the capabilities of your existing IP management system have not been upgraded in the past 12-18 months, then your supplier may not be investing in the tools and technology your business needs to make the most of its IP assets. The era of basic IP docketing software has come to an end. Don’t change the way your operation works to work around your IP management system, change to a customizable system that supports your business instead.
2. IT WON'T 'TALK' TO YOUR BUSINESS MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
From document and email management to financial tracking and invoicing, today’s IP management solutions should be designed for integration with your other business management systems. If you can’t access the complete picture through your IP support system, then you are likely to be adding unnecessary time and resources to your IP management and planning process. Digital file checks, automated letter and form production, cost estimation, time registration, electronic document handling and client relationship management (CRM) are just some of the capabilities that should be on offer to your business through its IP management system.
3. YOUR DATA IS NOT SECURE
Your IP management system should enable you to access your data online at any time and from anywhere in the world, but how secure is that access? IP is a valuable corporate asset, and needs to be appropriately protected from cybercrime or other attempted theft. How proactive is your supplier in security management? Are they investing the resources needed to safeguard your data from unauthorized access? Make sure your software provider takes the security of your data seriously and has put in place the appropriate mechanisms to encrypt, backup and continuously upgrade its levels of protection.
4. YOUR SOFTWARE OR SOFTWARE PROVIDER IS NOT GDPR COMPLIANT
The introduction of privacy legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, has had a major impact on the way organizations manage client and supplier data. The business teams elsewhere in your business likely jumped through hoops to ensure mailing lists were fully compliant in time for the 25 May enforcement deadline. But, what about the data held in your IP management system? It is likely to hold personal data in the forms of client records (e.g. for law firms), and both internal and external invention submissions. Make sure you’re working with a supplier who is aware of the obligations on your business to comply with new data protection regulation, and assists you to do so. The right IP management system and your provider should provide you with peace of mind by providing you with the tools, expertise and training you need to ensure GDPR compliance.
For more tips and advice on implementing the best IP management software for your company or law firm, speak to Patrix today at email@example.com. You can also access our how-to training for free on our YouTube channel.
Know Your Data: Safety First
You’ve safeguarded your assets legally through IP registrations, but how can you be sure that your data is secure from cyber-attack, hacking or corporate espionage?
Your IP is valuable to your business; unfortunately, that also makes it a target for theft. IP department heads, law firms and IT security officers have been rightly focused on safeguarding assets (including trade secrets, know-how and client lists) from copying by disgruntled employees, or by opportunistic suppliers and manufacturers. But, the responsibility to safeguard data held in online systems generally falls on the supplier. Don’t assume, however, that your provider or IP management system has the necessary data security systems and processes in place. What was state-of-the-art at the time of installation may no longer be fit for purpose in light of the threats today.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR IP DATA SAFE
The first step should be to clearly map what you own, where it is stored and how it is communicated. In particular, check where records are held or communicated outside of your main IP database. Depending on the capabilities of the IP management system you use, you will likely also be leaning on secondary programs, such as email and external contact databases, as well as other file-sharing services on the cloud. All of these represent further stores of documents that need to be secured against unauthorized access.
Where records are held on third-party systems, including IP management systems, make sure that licensing contracts clearly define where it is the responsibility of the provider to secure your data, and put controls in place to ensure those terms are followed. This should include ensuring that the data protection mechanisms they provide are regularly reviewed and updated. Hackers, data thieves and other cyber criminals are becoming ever more sophisticated at finding their way into ‘protected’ systems. Make sure your software provider isn’t falling behind.
THE IMPORTANCE IF A SINGLE TENANT ARCHITECTURE
At Patrix IP Helpware, we know how fast-moving and proactive you need to be to keep software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions secure. Early on, we chose to avoid the ‘multi-tenant’ model in which vast data farms hold client data in the same data store. Instead, we opted for a single-tenant structure for Patricia, meaning that each client’s data is held securely and separately in their individual server in a known and protected location.
Why did we choose a single-tenant structure? From a user point of view, it allows for greater customization by the client, enabling businesses and law firms to adapt the software to meet their specific needs. It is also much easier to upgrade. From a security point of view, it ensures greater privacy. Each organization’s records are held in separate data banks, not just minimizing but removing the chance of another company accidentally or purposefully accessing another company’s records.
The structure also creates greater resilience for users. With a multi-tenant solution, one attack can take down the whole system if the host is compromised. In a single-tenant structure, the hosts as well as the underlying systems are physically separated, reducing cross-contamination.
WHY DON'T MORE PROVIDERS CHOOSE THIS OPTION?
The most basic reason is that it’s just more expensive for them to run or move to. Once a multi-tenant structure is up and running, it costs nothing to add new clients to it; in fact, the more clients you add, the cheaper it is for the provider to run. To be able to scale in this way, however, user customization needs to be kept to a minimum.
For single-tenant solutions, such as Patricia, every new client requires additional investment in technology on our side – and we think that’s a good thing. After all, the more an IP management system can be made bespoke to your business, the greater value it will have, and the better it will be able to help you to provide the necessary services to your clients too.
For more tips and advice on implementing the best IP management software for your company or law firm, speak to Patrix today at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As IP portfolios become more sophisticated, so too must the IP management systems and software put in place to support them. Benchmark your current approach with these ‘starters for five’:
- Can you access your portfolio via a single log-in?
If you need to switch between systems or double docket IP records, you are likely to be missing the portfolio oversight needed to make strategic decisions, and also making more work for you and your administrative teams in the process. While the thought of the work involved in transferring data or merging systems may be off putting today, it will save you time and money in the long run. To set yourself up properly for the future, your business needs an IP management solution that is also capable of integrating and coexisting with other systems (such as finance and document management). Only then will you get the complete overview you need to streamline workflows, reduce risk and report accurately on your (or your clients’) assets.
- Does it enable collaboration?
Why update the records yourself when your associates, outside counsel, clients and/or inventors to do it for you? Enabling direct access (at set access levels) for trusted third parties not only takes the workload off your team, but also reduces the sheer volume of correspondence involved in even simple IP tasks. While the idea of a paperless office may sound some way off for your business, today’s IP management software will enable you to reduce your paper trail via remote data access, e-filing and e-billing, and is flexible and secure enough to accommodate remote working, thereby improving efficiencies and self-sufficiencies.
- Has it streamlined your operations?
Automating processes is not only more secure (in that it reduces the likelihood of human error), but is also more efficient, leading to increased margins and bottom line profits. From a law firm perspective, it also helps to deliver to clients an increased level of service and at a better cost; few businesses today are happy to pay high fees for highly administrative tasks. The right IP software will help firms and IP departments put in place robust workflows to manage not only docketing and diary management, but also reporting tasks, document management and financial planning.
- Is your supplier visibly investing in product and service development?
The IP software market is divided between those suppliers who are able, willing and actively investing in ongoing market research and product development, versus those who perhaps just provide software as a bolt-on to their core business. Inevitably, the focus on improving and developing software within such businesses is less. So fast is technology evolving, it’s only a matter of time that such solutions slip behind the curve. Make sure you’ve chosen a solution that is backed by the necessary investment in R&D, and has the resources in place to deliver the maintenance, service and support you need to make the most of the system.
- Can you get the information you need when and how you need it?
The ability to run tailored reports is crucial if a business is to make informed decisions, but this requires all the data to be held accurately, and for reporting workflows to be put in place to meet the company’s strategic needs. It may be that you already have a sophisticated IP system in place, but that it’s just not been set up effectively or you haven’t had the chance to fully investigate or implement its reporting capabilities. If that’s the case, taking the time to step back to assess and introduce reports now will pay dividends in the future, whether you’re looking to run regular metrics on ROI, mine data for insight into potential vulnerabilities, track and clean errors in the records, or justify future budget needs.
For more tips and advice on implementing the best IP management software for your company or law firm, speak to Patrix today <email@example.com>. You can also find out about our upcoming training programmes (here) or access our how-to training for free on our YouTube channel.
If you’re using an online IP management platform, you’re sitting on an abundance of data. That data can tell you about much more than simply your portfolio’s size or geographical reach; it can also give you the insight needed to make registration and renewal decisions, to set budgets and measure ROI, and to fuel the success of your IP management or growth strategy.
IP data management has moved on considerably since the days when assets, deadlines and due dates were simply docketed on Excel spreadsheets. Today’s IP solutions harness technology to enable businesses and their advisors to manage IP portfolios more efficiently, automating processes to reduce risk, streamlining workflows to reduce administration, and providing sophisticated reporting tools to deliver greater insight into the portfolio as a whole.
IP heads, intra-company departments, C-suite, finance and other collaborative parties have come to expect and require real-time, intelligent and relevant information on their corporate IP portfolio, whether from their internal IP teams or external legal advisors.
They need access to the complete picture if they are to make informed choices about their IP portfolio, whether looking to implement a new registration project, design a renewal policy, establish a licensing program, set budgets, or otherwise manage the IP portfolio effectively and strategically.
To obtain the complete picture needed to drive those decisions, companies and their legal advisors need to maximize the capabilities of their IP management technology and the insight it can provide into their data. Where should they start?
Step 1: Get the right tools in place
It’s hard to focus on the end goal when you’ve still managing day-to-day administrative demands. Integrating the right technology into your operations, functions and communications will help to streamline and automate time-consuming administration, building efficiencies, minimizing cost and the risks of human error, and freeing up internal teams to work on more strategic tasks.
Is your IP department on top of its current and future workload? Do you have the right IP support system to accommodate the different needs of your clients, associates and other collaborative parties. Is your docketing and back office support really efficient? Does it provide the information that you want to distribute from your office? If not, perhaps it is time to upgrade your software (find out more).
Step 2: Optimize the technology
The task of keeping track of dates is the most important function of any IP support system, but if you’re simply using it for traditional docketing then you may not have the right system for your business. Today’s IP management software provides sophisticated and valuable capabilities, such as digital file checks, direct email, powerful report generation, automated letter and form production, financial tracking and invoicing, cost estimation, time registration and electronic document handling, as well as client relationship management (CRM) capabilities.
Ensure your IP management platform provides the reporting and capabilities you need to take your portfolio to the next level, and make sure your supplier provides you with the support you need to implement them into your daily workflows. Patrix for example provides a regular training schedule to help customers make the most of the technology, as well as how-to guides on our YouTube channel.
Step 3: Audit your data
Obtaining a clear picture of your current portfolio is crucial to informing your future IP strategy, but only if the information presented in your IP management system is complete and correct. Start by making sure you own what you think you own (e.g. by checking the chain of title is up to date) and by correcting any errors or omissions in your electronic records. Then take the time to rationalize those IP records to identify, for example, duplicate rights or rights that are being renewed despite not being used, as well as potential holes in protection or royalty agreements that aren’t actively maintained.
Regular portfolio reviews will help you not only to keep the data stored in your IP management system clean, but also provide the insight needed to ensure your IP assets evolve in line with your business strategy or budgetary goals.
Step 4: Fix your goals, measure success and repeat
The data held in your system is valuable on many fronts. Harnessing that knowledge will enable you to fully exploit your IP assets and to make informed decisions, whether you’re looking to get a better handle on renewal spending, identify unused assets that could be licensed or sold to generate revenue, prepare for potential conflict in a core market or geography, or prepare your company for M&A.
Putting the strategy and workflows in place now will provide you with the tools and information you need to prepare such projects to succeed. Find out if your current system measures up: ‘Are you making the most of your assets? 5 questions to ask about your IP management software’.
[CTA] For further insight and advice on implementing the best IP management software for your company or law firm, speak to Patrix today