Insights 11.02.2021

Tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the IP profession

88% of IP professionals have felt the impact of the pandemic on their organisation, but the majority anticipate a strong recovery, according to our latest research.

As part of our IP industry outlook research, we set out to track the impact on IP portfolios and budgets of COVID-19, as well as to assess the challenges and opportunities facing IP professionals in 2021. 

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Despite the results revealing some stark differences in how countries, sectors and brands have been affected by the global pandemic, the majority (88%) of our 500-plus respondents said that the pandemic had impacted their organisation or strategy in some way and 40% said this impact was severe. Of the countries surveyed, France was by far the worst affected, with 60% of IP professionals witnessing a severe impact, while Germany appeared to fair best, with 29% claiming that the pandemic had had no impact.

Looking at how COVID-19 has affected each industry, some surprising results emerged: the Healthcare and Retail sectors were seemingly least affected (around 20% in each saw no impact), compared to nearly 60% of those working in Engineering, Construction & Energy stated the pandemic had severely impacted them, making it the worst affected industry group.

Potential of a long-term impact on IP filing

EUIPO, USPTO and CNIPA statistics revealed that new trademark applications remained relatively stable in the first 11 months of 2020, and increased relative to the year before in the US. Despite these figures, our industry research reveals that IP filing and prosecution strategies were still the aspect of the lifecycle that was hardest hit by the pandemic; 84% of respondents noted its impact and 35% said budgets for this area were lower than pre-COVID levels. In contrast, internal resources and portfolio growth plans (including acquisitions) were the least disturbed areas, with 27% of IP professionals saying these were unaffected.

However, the research also reveals that more than six in ten IP professionals are very confident that their organisation will emerge from the pandemic in good shape, so the outlook for 2021 and beyond is bright. Despite being the most impacted by the pandemic, French respondents were most optimistic about their recovery (74% very confident), with Germans at the other end of the scale. Globally, those working in-house were most confident, while respondents from universities or research institutes were least optimistic.

Commenting on the research, Reinhard Ottway, Chairman of NovumIP, said: “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact trade and the global economy, it’s inevitable that IP professionals will see further impacts on their organisations and IP strategies. With budgets under increasing pressure, the need to justify costs and demonstrate IP value will only increase, adding further scrutiny to the work of both in-house IP departments and IP law firms. When times are tough, IP assets have been shown not only to help businesses to survive, but also to help companies and economies to thrive. By identifying industry priorities for the coming years, we hope our research will help IP owners and their external advisers to protect and maximise the value of their IP assets, and to come out of the pandemic in a stronger position.”

About our research

Survey responses were collected from over 500 IP professionals across the UK, France, Germany, China and the US between October and December 2020, representing a variety of industries, companies and IP roles. The results of this research have been captured in the report, which shines a light on the topics that matter most to IP owners, including key areas of investment, the biggest challenges and opportunities for IP departments, the implications of recent consolidation, and benchmarking of budgets and future priorities, amongst others.

As well as the impact of the pandemic on IP organisations and strategies, NovumIP’s report includes insights on: the consolidation of the industry; investment priorities for the next five years; satisfaction with IP service providers, and feedback on existing IP management technologies.

Download the ‘IP industry outlook 2021'.


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