In spite of a worldwide economy that can seem downright stagnant at times, intellectual property filings are rising around the globe. This trend reflects the level to which corporate management believes that IP is important – and not just in domestic markets. As companies seek to protect and monetize their intellectual property, they must take a global view, looking at different locales as they develop their IP strategies.
But there have been significant changes in the IP landscape over the past few years, from the new rules resulting from the America Invents Act to the increase in patent litigation. So companies must take a careful look at their intellectual property budgets and rethink how they view their intellectual property.
Todd Rapier, EVP of worldwide sales at MultiLing, sees one common theme in terms of IP budgets. Companies make a safe, broad statement to over the requirements of foreign filings, first filings, etc. But what Rapier is hearing from inside counsel is that they are “not getting the correlating budget, forcing them to make choices that they might not want to make when it comes to foreign filings.” This budgetary issue, Rapier says, is forcing them to look at their best practices.
One example that Rapier cited was a large client that traditionally filed every single patent in Korea. But, after budget cutbacks, the company decided that the market, while important, was not large enough, so with a limited budget, they were forced to cut back.
There are, however, steps that companies can take in order to maximize their budgets. According to Rapier, these run the gamut from streamlining their docketing to negotiating fee structures with foreign counsel, to adjusting their methods of drafting in order to be more consistent. One of the largest – if not the absolute largest – costs incurred by companies filing overseas patents is translation. Moving to a centralized provider that specializes in the patent world can save money while providing quality and consistency.
Rapier notes that the way that we do foreign filings around the world was developed in the pre-Internet era, and has not changed much in the intervening years. Previously, companies would have to trust foreign counsel completely, but with today’s technology, that is dated at best. Companies need to be able to file in multiple languages in places like China, Korea, Japan, etc. It does not matter how good your translators are, if they cannot communicate, it is impossible to get a consistent experience. Moving to a true hub/spoke model, Rapier says, can allow data to flow among countries and allows companies to file quality applications from the start.
In the future, Rapier sees a trend of taking specialized pieces and centralizing them in the hands of chosen providers, which frees up foreign firms to do what they do best, allowing for the best possible results.
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