Insights 19.04.2021

When tracking IP investment priorities, strategy comes first

For our IP industry benchmarking research, we asked IP professionals in the US to nominate the areas in which they feel they need to invest more time and money moving forward. The results show a renewed focus on IP strategy, as a means to bounce back from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the profession.

The need to prioritise IP advisory and strategic services, as well as to closer align IP and business strategy, emerged top of the list of priorities for US-based IP professionals in our IP industry research.

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Of respondents, 40% ranked IP advisory and strategic services as their biggest focus for investment in 2021, followed closely by the need to realign IP and business strategy, as chosen by 37%.

The results reflect the growing importance of IP portfolios – and the people who manage them – in businesses of all types, a trend that seems poised to continue as businesses turn to IP to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“IP professionals will need to accelerate the process of developing greater business acumen so we can have business-based conversations with our executive leaders about the company’s IP strategy,” noted Karl Vick, Partner at Cantor Colburn and one of the contributors to our report. “The industry is gravitating toward this more today because it’s become more of a necessity, and it’s changing the skillset that IP professionals need in order to be successful.”

IP strategy emerged as especially important for IP professionals in the automotive/aviation and healthcare sectors, with 73% and 60% of respondents, respectively, hoping to invest. The other top priorities that emerged from our research include central data/services, competitive benchmarking and portfolio audits, and data-driven decision making.

The challenge to demonstrate IP value

Perhaps one of the key reasons US IP professionals are so focused on investing in strategy is that a surprisingly high number of them said they struggle to communicate the value of IP to internal stakeholders. Our research revealed that nearly four in 10 (36%) of IP professionals in the US confront this challenge, compared to 12% in France, 14% in the UK and 25% in Germany.

At the same time, many in-house professionals continue to be pushed to show the significance of their firm’s IP investments. They are looking to law firms and service providers to move with their needs and provide more strategic counsel and data-driven insights.

When asked what they value most from their service providers, US professionals ranked strategic guidance, including benchmarking/sharing best practices, above all else. “We value promptness and responsiveness from IP service providers, and the ability to provide realistic, practical advice, not just theoretical,” said Laurence Rickles, Chief Trademark Counsel at Teva Pharmaceuticals, who contributed to the report.

The type of work that US IP professionals appreciate from their service providers aligns closely with the areas in which they feel they need greater efficiency and support. As Lutgarde Liezenberg, CEO of Novagraaf, a NovumIP company commented: “We’re beginning to see greater transparency in the ROI of managing IP. That’s why it’s essential for IP service providers to have clear, predictive outcomes.”

With the pandemic accelerating connectivity in an already global marketplace, the need to leverage data and technology more effectively for making strategic decisions will only accelerate. Find out more in our US benchmarking report.

About our research

For our IP industry benchmarking research, we surveyed more than 500 IP professionals across the world, including 182 in the US, representing a variety of industries and IP roles. Respondents represented a wide range of companies and organisations, from in-house counsel and law firms to public sector organizations, start-ups and education/research institutes.  

The results of our research have been captured in two reports (one global, one US-specific) to shine 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, among others.

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