More in-house counsel are focusing on the quality of their patent programs, a new survey from IP management and analytics software company Lecorpio says.
The second annual Patent Program Benchmark Survey found that 42 percent of respondents, who were mostly in-house IP lawyers, track quality as a key performance indicator of how their in-house patent processes are functioning, a 12 percent increase from last year's survey.
Sixty-three percent measure performance by the quantity of patents submitted, and 10 percent measure performance by efficiency, or how quickly a patent goes from invention to filing to issuance.
Measuring performance of internal patent programs is somewhat new for many departments, since in last year's benchmarking survey from Lecorpio, nearly 42 percent said they were not tracking key performance indicators. That number shrunk to 36 percent this year.
"There's a real recognition that quality's important," Elisa Cooper, Lecorpio's VP of marketing, says of the most recent findings.
Approximately 75 percent of the in-house counsel surveyed said they reward patent inventors at their companies financially. Cooper says inventors who receive compensation for their work are mostly at established companies, whereas the remaining 25 percent who don't get rewards are mainly at startups and smaller companies.
"With startups, they're incentivized just by having ownership or stock in the company," she says. "Startups are not in the position to make those financial rewards. They're rewarding their employees in a different way."
Respondents to the Lecorpio survey reported that the rewards for patent milestones varied from payments for invention disclosure submissions to compensation for patent filings and patent issuances.
The majority of patent inventors (70 percent) were not compensated for their initial invention disclosure submissions. Nearly 12 percent received less than $100 and almost 18 percent received between $100 and $500.
Most companies covered by the survey grant inventors anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per patent filing and between $500 and $2,000 for issuance.
Aside from compensation, the survey revealed that 80 percent of patent inventors do not receive any additional assistance with paperwork or fielding questions from in-house counsel, management or others related to patent work. Meanwhile, 20 percent of respondents do provide top inventors with additional assistance once a patent is granted.
As for the communications inside counsel have with patent inventors, the survey said 75 percent engage in-person, 70 percent participate in teleconferencing and 75 percent receive online submissions of ideas. Fifteen percent hold webinars with inventors, but only 5 percent of in-house counsel conduct formal surveys to obtain feedback from them.
Cooper was surprised that so few legal departments conduct formal surveys to gather feedback about their patent programs. "There's valuable information to be gained from inventors on whether the process is working for them," she says. "There's a lot of online hosted survey providers out there but [in-house counsel can send] even just a quick email to gauge what's working and what could be done better, so inventors know this is something in-house counsel is committed to."