NEWS & EVENTS
Bringing IP records online: DIY or off the shelf?
Many IP firms are choosing to develop their own client portals, citing dissatisfaction with the solutions provided by many suppliers. While their reasons are understandable, any technology developed purely in-house does risk becoming outmoded over time. We compare the DIY and off-the-shelf approaches.
It’s not news that IP firms are under pressure from clients to provide round-the-clock access to their data, and yet many firms are still not set up to do so. Lack of IT resources or expertise, concerns over data security and liability, anxieties over data quality and accuracy, lack of time or appetite, and reliance on multiple legacy systems are just some of the biggest barriers to change.
Law firms that aren’t able to provide clients with easy and secure access to their IP records aren’t just behind the technology curve, they risk being completely outpaced by the speed of change. Indeed, so rapidly has technology evolved that, for some firms, the amount of work required to bring their businesses up to speed can seem an insurmountable task. Little wonder that so many firms are still putting it off or opting for ‘quick fixes’ to satisfy clients.
OUTSOURCE OR INHOUSE?
While it is possible to build a web portal on top of any docketing system, there are a number of additional factors here to be considered. These include for example, set-up cost, ongoing investment, data accuracy and interactivity with associated business systems.
IT systems require continuous investment if they are to remain fit for purpose as technology evolves. This is as true for IP management systems, as it is for other business systems, such as finance or document management. In some cases, even more so, given that IP software has advanced to enable greater interoperability and communication between complementary systems, both internally (e.g. with finance) and externally (e.g. with patent and trademark offices).
For this reason, the cost and demands of building a client portal in-house should be considered in light of the ongoing investment necessary to maintain it. Such systems may look quickly out of date if, for example, they do not also meet client expectations or facilitate related tasks, such as sending instructions, or generating reminders, budget estimates or reports.
Data accuracy is another key consideration. Where client portals are developed in-house, there is the added pressure of checking and correcting client records (potentially manually), in comparison to more collaborative IP systems that, for example, can automate the process of data verification or grant access to agents to provide such updates.
Most of these off-the-shelf IP management systems also have client portals in place. The Patricia Collaboration Portal, for instance, allows organizations to integrate any number of clients, departments, related management, stakeholders, inventors, associates and counsel into the IP data flow. Depending on their level of access/clearance, they will be able to view, search, report, update, document, status and send instructions securely online. The Portal is fully customizable and can be white-labelled to match a law firm’s corporate branding.
FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION
Ultimately, the goal for all organizations is to use technology to organize, understand and make better use of data. Here, the right platform can be a game changer. By structuring, verifying and quality assuring data, law firms will be better able to analyze their clients’ assets, provide them with 24/7 access to accurate records, and help them to budget and plan future activity. This brings great value both to a business and its legal advisors.
If lack of time and resources, or a reliance on multiple legacy systems, is your firm’s biggest barrier to change, then the best place to begin is by scoping out the project and the time and effort that will be required to implement it. By documenting the process, it naturally becomes less daunting, and will enable you to properly schedule and organize the work. (For assistance here, please see our article ‘How to select an IP management system’).
Concerns over data security, as well as lack of internal IT specialists, can be overcome with the right supplier. Be sure to partner with an IP management vendor, however, that not only delivers the technology and ongoing support you need, but also one that is also continuing to invest in the development of its own technology and services. This is rarer than you might suppose.
Find out more about the Patricia Collaboration Portal or contact us at email@example.com.
Getting a Head Start on Docketing
Many startup firms begin by docketing IP rights on spreadsheets or other such methods of data storage, until they reach a size when IP software becomes an urgent necessity. This wasn’t the case at specialist Swiss IP firm Wild Schnyder, where founding partners Donald Schnyder and Dr Peter Wild recognized the importance of implementing IP management software back when the firm was first founded in 2001. Donald Schnyder explains why.
We have always used specialized software, rather than spreadsheets or Excel documents at Wild Schnyder. When we started our own firm we were of the opinion that off-the-shelf specialist IP software is much more cost efficient than building and programming your own.
Our main focus is the whole IP field except patents. We support our clients mainly in cases revolving around trademarks, unfair competition, copyrights, domain name, design, company names, and so on.
As we planned to start out at a certain size, we knew from the beginning that we needed specialized IP software and that the investment in Patricia and Patrix IP Helpware services would soon pay out.
THE PERSONAL TOUCHAs we started from scratch, I never had concerns implementing the system as we could build our firm around the software and there were no really big problems apart from the usual considerations when you start with any new software. Patrix has always been very helpful and quickly on site when required.
At the beginning, they sent people to Switzerland to show how Patricia worked. After about two years when the heat of the first build up was over, I did refine all the workflows and started to use more and more parts of Patricia. We therefore could grow without hiring more staff to a certain extent.
EVOLVING WITH YOUR BUSINESS
Patricia is a flexible system. Once you know how it works, it is logical and easy to program. It makes you think about your setup, which is very positive because you find out quite easily where you can enhance your business procedures. There are no exact figures, but it is only a gut feeling, which tells me that we received plenty of return on our investment in Patricia, and that our profits are much bigger than without it.
Patricia grows with the business. It does not matter how much data you put in, it is never a question of capacity. Although it has become quite big, Patrix is a kind of family. All contact by phone and the personal meetings are very friendly and family business like.
To read more about Wild Schnyder’s experiences of working with Patrix, or to find out more about how Patricia could help your IP department or law firm, read the full case study or get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing for the Future of IP Docketing
An efficient back office is crucial for the success of any IP department or law firm. In preparation for our March 26 networking lunch in Washington, DC on ‘The future of IP docketing: an in-house perspective’, we examine best practice in this rapidly evolving field.
Docketing is at the very heart of the IP management process. A mistake or a missed deadline here and there will be penalties to pay. Little wonder then that many IP departments and law firms have been traditionally slow to adopt new technologies or ‘shortcuts’, fearing that it might risk introducing error into a highly administrative process.
These days, of course, IP management technology has evolved to the point that not embracing its capabilities poses businesses the bigger risk. This is particularly the case as back office pressure and workloads continue to increase, while their resources do not.
DOING MORE WITH LESSA good way to begin benchmarking your IP department or law firm in light of the available technology is to consider how many of the following processes are still managed manually:
- Due Dates
- Law Updates
- Invoice Management
- Document Creation, Storing and Tracking
- Email Correspondence
- Official Records
- Electronic Filing
- Batch Processing
- Workflows and Tracking
- Invention Submissions
- Reporting, Including Budget Estimates
These are just some of the administrative tasks and processes that can be more efficiently managed via an IP management tool; in particular by reducing duplication of effort and labour-intensive data entry, as well as helping to better control and store correspondence, and manage documents.
Handling large volumes of sensitive and valuable data is demanding. However, technology and tools exist to help drive efficiencies and profitability, without compromising security or accuracy. Rather than spending their time manually docketing data or running reports, staff can be redeployed onto more strategic tasks, such as verifying data quality or on data mining for example.
With today’s pressure ‘to do more with less’, the reality is that IP departments and their law firms won’t be able to drive efficiencies in back-office work if they’re still entering, validating or reporting on data manually.
SHARING BEST PRACTICES
At Patrix IP Helpware, we believe sharing best practice is the key to our clients’ future success. From how to better harness today’s IP tools and technologies, to workload and workflow management, and future pressures and opportunities, sharing experiences and preferred approaches is crucial for developing and driving forward best practices.
Please join us at our IP networking lunch tomorrow, March 26, in downtown Washington, DC to find out more, or get in touch to set up a meeting at email@example.com.
Time for a Spring Clean? Six Priorities for the Next Six Months
Keep on track with your 2019 priorities with our six-point guide for harnessing the potential of IP management technology for your business or law firm.
1. MAKE TECHNOLOGY A PRIORITY
When you’re snowed under with internal or client demands, it’s all too easy to keep putting off for tomorrow what you know you should be doing today. Unless you have a dedicated IT support team, the technology you use to manage your IP is more than likely to fall under this category. The sooner you start planning, the easier the process of upgrade will be. Start with a review of your current systems and processes, and a comparison of the tools and technologies that you could be using to bring your IP department or law firm bang up to date.
2. ASSESS THE ISSUES
It could be that your IP management system is perfectly fit for purpose, you’re just not using it as well as you could be. Vendors are adding new tools and functionality all the time, but not everyone is providing their users with the training or information on those upgrades to properly exploit them. Alternatively, you may not have a sophisticated tool at all, or are trapped using a bunch of legacy systems that are not setup to talk to each other, let alone share data or streamline workflows. Identifying the technological hurdles that you will need to overcome is the first step to introducing the improvements your business or law firms sorely needs.
3. IMPROVE WHAT YOU HAVE OR REPLACE WITH SOMETHING BETTER
Staying static is no longer a viable option. Either speak to your existing vendor to bring your workflows and your teams fully up to speed or start looking for a new supplier. The sooner you start the process, the sooner the right tools will be in place to take your business or law firm forward in 2019. For specific guidance on selecting a new IP management system, including criteria for shortlist and selection, and questions to ask during the shortlisting process, please read our article ‘How to… select an IP management system’ (see list left).
4. GET COLLABORATING
No IP department is an island, and as technology continues to advance at lightning speed, so too do our workloads. Simply put, it’s no longer possible to process the tasks and data related to IP matters in the same way businesses or law firms did 10, even 5 years ago. These days, you need to be able to allow your trusted IP partners to safely and securely access your IP portfolio records and record-keeping systems if you’re to stand any chance of keeping on top of the information flow. That means implementing an IP management system that includes a customizable portal, which provides users with exactly the right information, tools and levels of access, while maintaining the highest standards of usability, data integrity and security (find out about the Patricia® Collaboration Portal).
5. CLEAN OUT YOUR INBOX
It’s not only that employees are drowning under the number of emails they receive on a daily basis, the reality is that many of those emails contain critical data relating to a business’s IP rights. If that data isn’t extracted and properly stored, it risks disappearing into the depths of the employee’s email inbox. Free your business or law firm from the risk of a missed or incorrectly stored email, including those containing key deadlines or documentary evidence, by using your IP system to manage your case-related email correspondence.
6. TAKE BACK CONTROL
If you store your IP data in more than one system or with a law firm that does not have a web-enabled portal for you to access it, you’ll always feel as if you’re playing catch-up. The good news is that it really doesn’t need to be that way! Today’s IP systems should be sophisticated enough to enable companies and law firms to access case data via one centralized log-in, facilitating the automatic tracking of due dates, laws/regulations, standard forms, time and cost registration, invoicing and document management, including mail merge activities and batch processing. If you don’t have those capabilities or you don’t have workflows in place to automate and monitor those tasks, then now is the time to act. Set your own priorities for change with our article: ‘Are you making the most of your IP assets?’.
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.
Join an Exclusive
The Future of IP: An Inhouse Perspective
Dear IP professionals,
At Patrix, we believe sharing best practice is the key to our clients’ future success. This is even more important at a time in which IP professionals are under increasing pressure to “do more with less”.
Taking as our theme “The Future of IP Docketing” the IP networking lunch will gather together attendees from a cross-section of industries to share best practices in IP docketing.
Are you coming?
How to Improve your IP Management System
In previous articles, we set out advice for selecting and implementing the right IP management tool for your business. In this article, we look at techniques for improving existing systems.
The pace of technological advancement in the IP management space is fast and exciting, but most businesses and law firms don’t have the time or resources to make sure they’re fully embracing that speed of change. With busy workloads, and client or internal deadlines to manage, many struggle to make the most of the systems they put in place. As a result, what should be a rewarding opportunity to improve a business’s way of working, quickly begins to feel like it’s causing more headaches than it’s taking away.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to be that way. Get yourself out of the technology rut with these helpful tips and techniques:
TIP 1: CONSIDER HOW LONG EXISTING ROUTINES HAVE BEEN IN PLACE
Processes, workflows and other back-office routines are put in place for a reason: most commonly, to check (and double-check) that rights are safely and securely docketed. But, what was necessary to ensure that 10 years ago is unlikely to still be the case today. Take the time to step back and look at your own routines and workflows: do they really work efficiently in today’s business environment or is it time to update them? Could your case management system be updated to help automate those processes? As competition over pricing continues to increase, the idea that ‘if it works, don’t fix it’ may no longer be the best response.
TIP 2: ASSESS WHAT YOU USE YOUR SYSTEM FOR - AND WHAT YOU COULD USE IT FOR
In particular, look to examine whether your IP management system is purely used to docket rights. Of course, the task of keeping track of dates is the most important function of any IP support system; nonetheless, businesses should be expecting something far beyond just diary information. Ask yourself: Are you expecting too little of your case management system? IP management systems continue (or should be continuing) to evolve, with new functionality added to help organizations tackle common challenges. Could you optimize the tool you already have in place to support the functions of the entire IP department better?
TIP 3: GET UP TO SPEED ON THE SYSTEMS POTENTIAL
Today’s IP management systems should provide businesses and law firms with the option to access capabilities that facilitate their ways of working. For example, digital file checks, direct email and correspondence management, report generation, automated letter and form production, financial tracking and invoicing, cost estimation, time registration, electronic document handling and collaborative ways of working, as well as client relationship management (CRM) capabilities. In other words, today’s systems have the ability to act as an enterprise and validation tool for the entire IP organization. If yours doesn’t, speak to your supplier to ask why.
TIP 4: OVERCOME HURDLES AND/OR RESISTANCE TO CHANGE
What’s stopping you from making the most of the technology’s capabilities? Do you lack the capacity in your IT team? Does your vendor not give you enough support? Do you keep putting the upgrade off due to ‘more urgent’ deadlines? Selecting and implementing an IP management system isn’t a one-off project. Technology is always evolving, and that requires businesses to evolve and adapt too. The good news is that isn’t too late to play catch-up, even if you don’t have a dedicated IT team or specialist in-house. Identifying the potential barriers to progress is often the first step in overcoming them. Remember too, that you’re not alone: your challenges will likely be the same as those of your peers and competitors. Your vendor should be able to provide you with trusted and tested solutions to common challenges.
TIP 5: INVOLVE YOUR EMPLOYEES
If you’re to make the most of any system, you need to take its users along with you. Involve attorneys and other IP professionals, together with the managers, marketing personnel, financial administrators, case administrators, IT department and clients. Consider building a project team to review and assess business needs, obtain the necessary training and ensure that new functionality or adapted ways of working are shared with the business at large. Develop a roadmap that considers and actions common challenges and opportunities, such as: Should partners/employees have the ability to work from home or other remote locations? What needs to be achieved for clients be given internet access to their IP portfolios? Is the organization ready to go paperless or, if not, ‘paper light’?
Technology offers your organization the potential of a new, smarter way of working. Make sure you’re embracing the potential of change. Find out if your current system measures up by reading our article (left): ‘Are you making the most of your assets? 5 questions to ask about your IP management software’.
Time for an IP Management Audit?
It’s not too late to get IP portfolios and systems in shape for 2019. Here are five easy steps to get started.
If you or your clients are to make informed decisions in 2019, you need to trust that the data you hold in your IP management system is accurate and complete. Get yourself on the front foot with this five-step guide:
STEP 1: GET UP TO DATE
This includes the tools you use to hold or access IP data as well as the data itself. Indeed, the better your IP management system, the less work you should have to do on checking the data it holds for accuracy. Modern IP management systems feature the ability to verify data automatically against records held by patent and trademark offices, and to provide access to trusted external agents to check and update records on your behalf, as well as to store correspondence and documents related to those rights. Make sure your system delivers the support you need to minimize the impact on your internal team.
STEP 2: DEMAND INSTANT ACCESS
Anyone with a smartphone or internet connection can access information online whenever they wish to, so why should you have to wait for access to your IP records? If your IP department or law firm isn’t set up to provide 24/7 access to IP portfolios, then it risks falling behind its competitors, slowing down your decision-making and diverting staff onto non-strategic tasks. Integrating the right technology into your processes and workflows will help to automate time-consuming day-to-day administrative demands, minimizing costs as well as the risks of human error.
STEP 3: KEEP INFORMED
The ability to run tailored reports is crucial if a business is to make informed decisions, but this requires not only for the data to be accurate and complete, but also for reporting workflows to be put in place to meet the company’s strategic needs. Ensure your IP management platform provides the reporting and capabilities you need to take your portfolio to the next level, and take the time now to assess and implement them into your workflows, whether you’re looking to mine data for insight into potential vulnerabilities, track and clean errors in the records, or run regular metrics on ROI to justify future budgetary needs.
STEP 4: GET THE RIGHT SUPPORT
Is your IP department or law firm on top of its current and future workload? Do you have the right IP management system in place to accommodate the different needs of your internal departments, clients, associates and other collaborative parties? Do your suppliers provide you with the assistance you need to make the most of your IP portfolio and systems? If you’re having to manually work around or pay a premium for tasks that could and should be automated, or if you’re still only using your IP management system for basic docketing tasks, it is likely time to evaluate your suppliers.
STEP 5: PLAN TO SUCCEED
Regular portfolio and process 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 the way you manage your IP assets evolves in line with your business strategy or budgetary goals. The data held in your system holds the key to future decision-making, whether you or your clients are looking to expand into new markets, license unexploited assets, prepare for litigation, or divest or acquire a new product line. However, you can only fully exploit that knowledge if you have real-time access to up-to-date information whenever you need it. Putting the strategy and workflows in place now will provide you with the tools and information you need to prepare for success in 2019.
To find out if your current IP management system measures up, read our article: ‘4 Reasons Why It May Be Time to Upgrade Your IP Management Software’.
Patrix IP Helpware’s IP management system Patricia allows clients to work more efficiently, including by avoiding the logjams of tasks that were once handled by one individual or department. Stephen Beney of Bereskin & Parr provides more details.
When we implemented Patricia, we simultaneously changed and improved some of our processes. This resulted not only in a learning curve of the new software for some staff, but a learning curve of our new processes. Patricia enabled us to transfer tasks (opening new files, for example) to assistants that were once handled by a centralized department.
ADAPTING TO A NEW SYSTEM
Patricia has many functions and capabilities. We tried to keep things simple upon implementation and, over time, have been expanding our use of Patricia. People learn quickly and are far more adaptable than they would have you think.
There are many aspects of Patricia that are useful. Of particular importance to our firm is the ability to manage firm processes through workflows/due dates as well as the ability to store our client, contact and files details (including tracking the location of our files). The ability of our administrator to customize Patricia to meet the needs of our firm is especially significant, and the robust search function in Patricia is extremely useful to all staff.
The security features in Patricia allow us to lock down features in Patricia to certain users, helping us reduce the risk of due date errors, for example. Since we were able to decentralize certain tasks through the use of Patricia, this enabled us to avoid bottlenecks of tasks that were once handled by one individual or department. The batching of data and letters in Patricia allows us to update file information and generate letters on multiple files in a quick and efficient manner. The ability to customize workflows allows us to quickly adapt when there are changes to the law and to instill best practice processes and conformity throughout the firm.
We use Patricia to store our client, contact and file details. We use pop-up notes to remind staff about client-specific reporting needs/standing instructions, and we use the document section to store important documents for ease of reference. We use the data in Patricia to analyse and balance workload among our administrative staff as well as to look for efficiencies.
We are continually looking for efficiencies in our processes and how we use the system itself. Feedback from staff is vital to the success of any implementation and we are always encouraging and acting on feedback from staff. To read more about the process of implementing Patricia, including the functionality implemented by Stephen Beney at Bereskin Parr, read the full case study or get in touch at: email@example.com.
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