“New technologies can radically change IP management practices by eliminating the lack of transparency, reducing enormous costs for services and providing all market participants with an unprecedented level of flexibility.”
There’s hardly any area in entrepreneurship today that deals with innovation more than intellectual property rights protection – in fact, cutting edge technology and inventions are at the core of the IP industry. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the real-life practices, processes and management in the industry are as technologically advanced –it’s actually quite the contrary, or, at least, has been until recently.
Following the footsteps of tech and service companies, the IP management market has also been exposed to the global digitization and automation trends. Just like the transportation market was dramatically transformed after the emergence of Uber, new technologies can radically change IP management practices by eliminating the lack of transparency, reducing enormous costs for services and providing all market participants with an unprecedented level of flexibility.
This article will provide an overview of how IP management has changed over the past decades and what it might look like in the future.
A Historical Perspective
Intellectual property management is a relatively young discipline. The role of an IP manager has long been viewed from a risk management angle, since patents were mostly used to secure a company’s products or avoid violating other companies’ intellectual property. Patent professionals were therefore primarily occupied with the invalidation of patents or opposing someone else’s patents.
With the subsequent sophistication of the innovation market and globalizing economies, intellectual property rights have become a potentially more valuable asset than extensive manufacturing facilities. Besides, IP rights for an invention or technology are much easier to deliver worldwide than the actual products or technologies.
All these changes created additional work for IP managers since they now have to deal with international law norms and practices, complicated contracts and an increased number of patents.
Technology for the Sake of Innovation
Today, global companies need to protect their IP rights in multiple geographies with various regulatory practices. So, they normally hire local IP attorneys or agencies to help them apply for patents or trademarks and enforce their rights, if needed.
One might liken these agents to taxi drivers before the Uber era – with non-transparent pricing that can vary a lot for the same services provided, mashed-up business processes, and the fact that the customer does not have full access to the IP-related data, so it’s hard to prevent costly mistakes.
However, the situation is now changing slowly, allowing for a more civilized way of doing business globally – not in the least thanks to IT technologies. Even though artificial intelligence can’t be listed as an inventor on patents (at least, not in the United States), AI-powered solutions can, for example, speed up and cheapen patent search.
Like in other industries where there’s a constant need for qualified professionals, online marketplaces and recruiting platforms are emerging in the IP rights industry. This makes a search for a highly experienced attorney or IP rights manager a much easier task than it used to be. We are also seeing a rise in IP management platforms that enable businesses to better manage their IP assets, processes, tasks and related communications. After all, it’s only logical that the market dealing with innovation in essence should be innovative itself.
In my view, we will see more and more businesses in the market choosing to commercialize their intellectual property and even making that their primary line of business. In which case, IP assets will increasingly serve as currency in this new ‘knowledge economy’ and, therefore, add more value to standard business practices.
What is definitely not going to happen is a throwback to old-fashioned methods of IP management. When powered by technology, and with the help of top professionals, it radically transforms the way businesses store, manage, develop and distribute their IP assets. Luckily, we can be both spectators of and participants in this landmark shift.
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