Leading intellectual property practices today have reached a standard that transcends docketing, data entry and paper-based management methods. “IP Management” (“IPM”) as a discipline and technology model has been widely adopted and embraced by corporate IP practices and law firms alike; as a technological generation, it is arguably nearly a dozen years old. Ever more progressive in its reach and intensifying in demand, IPM has expanded significantly in recent years to include a growing, sophisticated number of processes, modules, functions, and innovation-oriented competencies.
The universe of focal stakeholders is also expanding. The “docketing” paradigm has always been about, by and large, data entry management, and it nurtured a core expert stakeholder group in the paralegals and docketers that arguably drove the bus. Building and expanding on that prior generation’s core constituency, IPM's proliferation was very much about including and serving attorneys, inventors, R&D and even C-level executives into the ecosystem, delivering insight and input into the management of IP and its broad business stakeholder base.
At the forefront of IPM's advanced solutions landscape, expected core components include the ability to automate processes, support internal and external work collaboration, create paperless environments, integrate internally with core enterprise systems that comprise the “information suite” and externally with PTOs and other jurisdictional data providers, and deliver business intelligence. However, the inherent value of these solutions lies much deeper than in mere technological output. IP stakeholders investing in advanced IPM solutions these days demand actionable intelligence – intelligence that delivers informational assets to support, enable and drive decision-making at all levels of the organization. In short, progressing IPM organizations seek the context and the data to make the best decisions possible for pursuing, managing and monetizing innovation.
Today, we find the IPM market in the midst of a fundamental paradigm shift, one in which the focus of intellectual property management as an operational discipline matures from its long-understood structural grounding in prosecution towards a more holistic approach to information management that is tightly integrated with the underlying business lifecycle.
Accidental IPBM: The IP Applications Landscape
IP Business Management (IPBM) is driven by the technologies that support legal operations and performance. Our benchmarking data notably demonstrates that an IPM system alone does not cover the technological needs of an IP organization (see Fig. 1 below).
Fig. 1 Technologies Used to Manage IP Assets
While 69 percent of IP practices leverage an IPM system in their technology enterprise, and another 62 percent cite traditional docketing software, we are struck by the breadth and diversity of other tools and systems the market leans on to marshal data and drive decisions. E-Billing software, a core legal management tool and central to outside counsel participation, is both as prevalent as Docketing software and used in conjunction with Docketing to enhance the visibility and dimension of IP matters. The market is clearly expressing the need for a diversity of tools to capture, nurture, manage, protect and defend intellectual assets. Yet organizations overwhelmingly address needs with a “whack-a-mole” strategy, acquiring technology to address a specific, narrow need when a challenged arises. The role of IPBM, thus, is to present a unifying framework that allows organizations to understand their holistic information management needs and address them in a cross-functional discipline to guide, drive and support business units and partners.
Despite the diversity of technology demonstrated here and the many facets of end-to-end IP lifecycle management, one trend we have observed among leading IPM vendors is the diversification of core capabilities in the IPM system itself. When this takes place, an example of the “center of excellence” approach to information strategy, clients have access to the widest range of functionality as is possible. One notable example includes the urgency among leading solution providers to integrate analytics and third-party data models into their core platform, a solution-set that is not only compelling but also directly addresses the 54 percent of the market that uses a standalone patent search tool as one of their essential technologies.