Preparing for future IP challenges

As IP owners and their advisers begin to return to their offices and pre-COVID priorities, the risk of a further lockdown and economic downturn will only put further pressure on their activities in the coming months. While the challenge to achieve more with less is nothing new, these unique times call for innovative solutions, says Lutgarde Liezenberg.

The speed of innovation, and the growing complexities of international trade and commerce, have placed IP under the spotlight in the past few decades, as companies have looked to further harness the potential of IP assets as vehicles for growth. Alongside this increased appreciation for IP at boardroom level, has come increased scrutiny over budgets and strategies.

Naturally, IP departments have challenged their IP suppliers to change their own mindsets and innovate their services in order to support them with more sophisticated tools and commercially-aware services. As the COVID-19 pandemic pushes us into another period of economic stress, it is inevitable that the pressure on IP owners and their suppliers to justify budgets and demonstrate IP value will only increase.

Adding value to IP

History has shown that companies that invest in innovation emerge from recessions in a stronger position. Indeed, when times are tough, investing in IP assets can not only help businesses to survive, but also give them a huge competitive advantage and drive economic growth. Nonetheless, when finances are restricted, budgets need to be cut somewhere.

In this time of uncertainty, IP service providers need to help their clients to safeguard their valuable IP assets by enabling them to achieve more with less. For an IP owner, finding a balance between cost and quality – and therefore using the right suppliers – will be crucial if they are to protect and strengthen their portfolio and prove their value to the business, so they too can come out stronger from the downturn.

A change in mindset is also necessary: IP is still viewed by many as a cost centre, rather than an investment, and this viewpoint is likely to become more prevalent in a recession. As an industry, we have a part to play in supporting our clients to change the conversation from one of cost, to one of value.

What do IP owners need from their providers?

To achieve this shift in perception, IP providers need to add value across the IP management life cycle, by offering the right mix of technology, process and legal advice. At all times, but particularly in turbulent ones, clients need a trusted partner who goes above and beyond to share best practice and global benchmarking advice, as well as providing flexible services and support.

But, as long as services are provided in silos, it will be a challenge for in-house IP departments to recover the valuable time they spend on managing suppliers and quality control. Indeed, as belts get tightened, centralisation of data and suppliers will become crucial to streamlined operations and informed decisions.

As NovumIP, we have been able to combine state-of-the-art technology with a commitment to customer service that offers clients the services they need, when they need them, via a single point of contact. It is this approach, combined with the mindset and attitude of our people, that we believe will make the biggest difference.

The competitive advantage

In our vision for the future of IP services, smart technology is employed not only to speed up manual processes, but also to help IP owners to streamline time-consuming IP management tasks and manage portfolio and legal complexity.

As with our online brand protection service, for example, low-touch automation is available where it makes sense, but always backed by attorney guidance and support when required. Data analytics and dashboards track return on IP investment and provide the holistic perspective that is needed to support corporate decision making. As a result, IP professionals are freed up to focus on value creation, rather than spending their valuable time reviewing lengthy reports or managing supplier invoices and correspondence.

If you are to capture the value of IP assets, you also need to be proactive and commercially aware. We hope that our approach to delivering more with less will support our clients during the turbulent times ahead, and empower them with the knowledge and support that they need to come out stronger.

Lutgarde Liezenberg is CEO of the Novagraaf Group, a NovumIP company.

As part of its new manifesto, Smart IP: Three priorities for value creation in the new global IP economy, NovumIP has outlined three challenges that it believes must be overcome to meet its vision for the future of IP services: Empowering IP professionals, Delivering efficient IP administration, and Driving value creation. Find out more at: www.novumip.com/en/manifesto.

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