IP management

This year’s results show that intellectual property remains a key aspect of business strategy but that managing costs is a growing concern among private practitioners and IP-owning businesses alike. Respondents from corporates highlighted finding ways to make money from intellectual property as the most important issue, although managing costs was the most referenced concern.

Despite the need for more monetisation and cost management, there was a clean split between IP owners about experiencing pressure from senior management to make money from their portfolio, with 44% of respondents saying that they agreed with this statement and 43% saying that they disagreed.

Private practitioners also weighed in on the debate; while they listed the ability to find more clients as the most pressing issue, it is one that has declined in importance. Attracting top-quality attorneys and managing costs have instead been increasing in significance. Undoubtedly the matter of managing costs will be a growing concern going forward given the ongoing covid-19 pandemic that is leaving many strapped for cash.

While IP owners continue to work to strengthen and refine their portfolios, there has been a tangible shift in the expectations for how strategy will evolve over the next five years. Focusing on collaborative opportunities remained the most popular response at 70%, but there was a sharp drop in the number of respondents who believed that there would be a rise in tech transfers. Only 27% selected this option in comparison to 42% last year. Positively, though, only 2% of this year’s respondents predicted that there would be less of a focus on patents, down from 7%.

Private practitioners shone a light on how IP management has developed over the past year. Unsurprisingly there has been a steep fall in the amount of litigation services being sought, dropping from 33% to 18%. This reflects an ongoing downward trend in patent litigation in the United States, which began in 2015. On the other hand, prosecution work is trending along an upward trajectory, growing from 49% to hit 65% this year.

Figure 6. In the past year, the budget of your IP department____? (IP owners)

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Figure 7. In the coming year, do you expect that the budget of your IP department will____? (IP owners)

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Figure 8. Over the next five years, do you expect the number of attorneys at your firm to____? (private practice)

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Figure 9. Which of the following areas of work is the most important to your firm’s business model? (private practice)

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Figure 10. Which services does your firm offer? (private practice)

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Figure 11. My company’s leadership appreciates the value and importance of intellectual property (IP owners)

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Figure 12. My company’s leadership is actively involved in strategic planning related to intellectual property (IP owners)

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Figure 13. The IP function is coming under increasing pressure from senior management to monetise the company’s IP portfolios (IP owners)

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Figure 14. How aligned is IP strategy with business strategy in your organisation? (IP owners)

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Figure 15. How do you expect your organisation’s IP strategy to develop over the next five years? (please select up to three answers) (IP owners)

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Table 1. Please rank the top three most important IP issues affecting your work (with 1 being the most important) (IP owners)

 First most importantSecond most importantThird most important
Managing costs17%24%15%
Finding ways to make money from your intellectual property20%11%8%
Managing the rights you own14%10%15%
Enforcing the rights you have13%13%11%
Protecting your portfolio13%9%8%
Assessing out-licensing opportunities2%7%8%
Doing IP due diligence in light of M&A4%7%8%
Tracking inventions7%5%10%
Staffing3%6%7%
Lack of executive management support5%4%3%
Assessing in-licensing opportunities2%4%7%

Table 2. Please rank the top three business issues facing your practice today (with 1 being the biggest issue) (private practice)

 First most importantSecond most importantThird most important
Finding new clients28%17%12%
Retaining existing clients5%8%12%
Managing costs11%20%16%
Retaining talent12%14%13%
Clear communication with clients2%5%5%
Attracting top quality attorneys21%14%12%
Understanding the changing IP environment6%6%9%
Offering more specialised, industry-tailored solutions8%9%7%
Clients’ changing billing requirements5%7%12%
Other2%0%2%

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