Introduction: managing risk

Assessing and managing risk are going to become a much more critical part of IP exploitation – and patent service providers will be key to how that is done. They will provide the analysis, evaluation and measurement tools that will help clients (IP counsel and senior executives) to make informed decisions to achieve success in developing, defending and monetising their patent portfolios, while minimising the risk to the business.

A big part of risk management will be about improved data and analysis, as transparency increases throughout the patent lifecycle. As our report on in-house IP departments sets out, businesses are likely to demand new services over the next few years, driven both by the need for more nuanced analysis of their (and their competitors’) portfolios and the desire to work more efficiently with better use of data and technology.

This will provide opportunities for service providers, but it also means that clients will become more sophisticated in their demands and have higher expectations. Service providers will have to recognise that businesses understand IP risks in many ways and will need new tools to manage their exposure to challenges such as the loss of trade secrets, the threat of being sued and the uncertainties involved when entering into a large corporate deal.

Different providers will have different roles to play in this process. Existing providers of services such as searching and docket management will find new markets for their services, but will also find it increasingly hard to differentiate themselves and justify high fees. Some providers of other services, including insurance brokers, accountants and management consultants, will develop and improve their offerings to the IP market. There will also be new entrants, many of them innovative companies offering services based on new artificial intelligence (AI) and automated tools.

To fully exploit these opportunities, service providers will have to take some difficult decisions, including regarding structure, marketing, investment and how they fit within the IP ecosystem. How they respond to these challenges will determine which providers succeed and which fail over the next few years.


This report is one of a series published by IAM and its sister platform WTR looking at the future of intellectual property from a number of perspectives. These reports will initially cover patent and trademark work in law firms, in-house departments and service providers. Further reports looking at other parts of the IP ecosystem will be published in 2019.

The reports focus on how IP practice is likely to develop in the medium term, looking at issues such as technology, human resources, new business models and emerging markets. They are based on interviews with more than 50 highly experienced IP professionals operating in different parts of the IP market, conducted between May and September 2018, as well as other research and reading.

All those who took part in the interviews were also invited to complete an online questionnaire – the IP Futures Survey –and some of the results are shown in graphs in this report.

As the content of the reports is forward-looking, they should not be treated as legal advice and the overall conclusions may not reflect the views of all those who were interviewed.

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