Empowering IP professionals


Toni Nijm

Empowering IP professionals

sanjeri / iStockphoto.com

The IP Platform is the first step towards bringing together technology, services and tools that will help innovators and IP professionals drive efficiencies and make better-informed decisions, says Toni Nijm of CPA Global.

A BBC report from March 2018 highlighted the potential of quantum computing—a breakthrough in technology that is expected to completely transform the capability of computers to solve challenging science and engineering problems. Disruption in the digital age continues to gather pace, and every business and industry will be impacted.

Having worked in R&D and product strategy, I have seen how technology has transformed other industries and I see no signs that the pace of innovation is decreasing.

CPA Global was founded in 1969 as Computer Patent Annuities; technology and IP are our core DNA. By applying 50 years of technology expertise to The IP Platform, we bring together accurate IP data and simplify common tasks through apps and software that support our customers across the entire idea lifecycle. Tasks such as filing, renewals and docketing are automated within The IP Platform, providing users with an instant overview of global progress across their IP network.

More innovation, more filing, more work

Innovation is speeding up and this has resulted in an unprecedented number of filings—international patent applications rose 4.5% in 2017, the eighth consecutive year of growth, according to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) statistics.

With companies globalising at breakneck pace, the only way to manage IP growth is through connected technology. The next global revolution is happening through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate manual processes and extract relevant decision support data from huge sets of data in real time. This has the potential to identify significant trends by analysing petabytes of IP data, quickly and simply. What will this mean? Will IP professionals be replaced by machines?

I believe over the next decade the industry will experience huge levels of change and disruption, much of it driven by technology. Anxiety over the role technology will play in the future is entirely understandable, but history has repeatedly shown that innovation drives liberation. Technology enables humans to achieve greater things. 

What the industry really needs

A new study from CPA Global (“Global research study into law firms and corporate IP departments”) canvassed the views of law firms and corporates regarding the future of the IP industry and the role technology can play. Our survey asked what law firms perceived as the top challenges they would be facing over the next three years. The responses highlighted the challenges of delivering higher service levels and keeping pace with rapidly transforming technology.

Corporates had similar issues. Corporate IP professionals are heavily prioritising the need to align IP strategy with business strategy to make good decisions in selecting, protecting, maintaining and commercialising IP.

Technology has a huge role to play in addressing the needs of law firms to increase efficiency and those of corporate IP professionals to generate improved insight for better business decision-making.

The role of technology in the IP industry

IP is a complex industry driven by a community of connected people. It has challenges and issues that mean almost every individual case of protection, renewal or prosecution is unique. Jeopardy is extremely high: mistakes could cost millions. The industry involves considerable risk unless specific expertise is constantly applied.

Innovators have relied on an ecosystem of trusted partners, built up over many years, with specific expertise in industries, geographies or both. These relationships deliver the most effective protection for ideas at the lowest possible risk. This is not to say that technology does not have a role. The challenge is how to apply technology that drives improved automation, but not at the expense of the specialist knowledge and years of expertise that are contained within the ecosystem.

Creating a new model for the IP ecosystem

After spending more than 15 years in IP management, and developing my own IP technology company, Ipendo, I have spent much of the last two years addressing this challenge. The IP Platform from CPA Global is the first step towards bringing together technology, services and tools that will help innovators and IP professionals drive efficiencies and make better-informed decisions. Our mission is to ensure that the expertise central to the IP ecosystem continues to exist and is enhanced by technology.

Many of our customers have asked why we created an IP platform to support the ecosystem when we already have market-leading solutions. It would have been simple for CPA Global, as the market leader in IP management, to have continued to deliver our suite of software and services unconnected. Instead we have decided to disrupt our own market with a connected suite of services and software that can generate enhanced value for a new generation of innovators.

"Corporations seeking partners in new territories can do so via the platform, and law firms can showcase their expertise to a wider IP audience."

The IP Platform also serves as a means of bringing the industry together, further connecting the ecosystem. Corporations seeking partners in new territories can do so via the platform, and law firms can showcase their expertise to a wider IP audience. Users can share experiences and best practice.

Data driving insight

Data is the new gold. Insight from IP data has the potential to transform how businesses plan, grow and develop. The scope of what has become possible by manipulating datasets will only grow with the application of AI and ML. By building these tools into The IP Platform, we plan to enable IP professionals to not only manage tasks far more efficiently, but to be able to answer critical questions around research and development, IP portfolio values, potential acquisitions and mergers, and even to pinpoint successful future innovation strategies.

Having accurate, up-to-date and consolidated data is paramount to IP professionals. Yet the WIPO believes that as much as 25% of all IP ownership data in public records is inaccurate. Given that there are more than 20 million active or pending patents in the world, the patent registry data relating to ownership of around five million of these is inaccurate.

When companies merge and portfolios are sold, IP data is not always updated consistently, and there is also the issue of simple human error. The American Bar Association believes that manual docketing and calendar errors were the primary cause of malpractice suits from 2012 to 2015, with more than 34% occurring in this area.

More data means more insight. The IP Platform offers seamless access to verified data through IP One Data—CPA Global’s patent database and matching engine, covering more than 100 million patent records. IP One Data offers a consolidated view of IP data, correlated and augmented by external IP data sources. The verification process ensures information is cleansed, using best-in-class big data technology and proprietary algorithms.

By ensuring that all software programs and apps are combined in one platform, we can ensure that any changes made to IP data are seamlessly reflected across the entire platform and verified against patent office records.

Accurate data drives better decisions, but this is only one of the reasons why we have integrated all services and applications into one platform. The primary driver was to create an environment where all IP data was integrated and visible. By connecting common tasks, value is generated.

The IP Platform can ensure that after a filing, renewal dates are automatically identified for action in the future. This is something that technology is uniquely suited to achieving—a simple but effective means to avoid risk without compromising the trusted networks already valued within the IP ecosystem.

The future of IP

IP defines corporate value, drives takeovers and mergers, and enables business disruption on global scale. Yet IP management has yet to benefit fully from technology. With The IP Platform, CPA Global aims to redefine and enhance the role of IP professionals not replace them. Truly effective technology empowers humans to do more, be more efficient and generate more insight.

The IP Platform from CPA Global will help IP professionals manage their day-to-day roles, freeing them to deliver the insight that will help drive new investment for the next generation of ideas makers.

The future of IP is about deploying technology in a smart way so that IP professionals can focus on better business decision-making.

Toni Nijm is chief product and strategy officer at CPA Global. He drives the company’s strategy to deliver products that help R&D departments maximise the outcome of their investments and make IP management a more efficient and collaborative function. He can be contacted at: ipinfo@cpaglobal.com

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