Innovating in Intellectual Property Technology: building future-ready software solutions


Innovating in Intellectual Property Technology: building future-ready software solutions

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WebTMS is attending IP Service World this month and we are very much looking forward to meeting our peers from across the IP sector. We’re also looking forward to sharing the latest features and updates to our intuitive, award-winning IP portfolio management software. Catch us at booth IP75!

There’s no denying that developing technology for any part of the legal sector is a remarkable and rewarding challenge. It has some unique features that must be fully understood if we are to devise solutions that solve our clients’ problems and make their lives simpler.

A look at the IP Service World conference agenda provides an excellent snapshot of current focus areas and future opportunities. The usual suspects include “efficiency”, “innovation”, “monitoring” and “management” solutions, with a strong sprinkling of “AI”, “globalisation” and “sustainability” entering the frame.

At WebTMS we have more than twenty years’ experience in developing IP management software that matches our clients’ needs, so we thought we’d share some thoughts on why IPTech is such an interesting field, the crucial features of IPTech solutions, and where they are headed.

IP Management – a large and dynamic field

Intellectual property filings have skyrocketed in recent years in every territory worldwide. The ascendancy of the ideas economy in the era of global connectivity and the virtual world has led to a greater realisation of brand value and the need to protect it. This is good news for Trade Mark Attorneys, Administrators and Paralegals – if they can stand the relentless pace!

This is the natural place for technology to complement the expertise of IP professionals but, as needs grow more sophisticated, the tech must keep up. The following are what we see as the key features solutions need to get right to add value and make users’ lives easier:

Intelligent Automation for Efficiency and Accuracy

There’s one thing no legal professional has enough of, and that’s time. Consequently, a tool that drives efficiency – without compromising on all-important accuracy that is critical to legal work – will always be attractive.

This is where process automation comes in. Identifying the core processes involved in a task and applying automation lets tech do the heavy lifting, reduces the administrative burden, and removes errors that can creep in when humans are asked to undertake repetitive tasks.

WebTMS deploys automation to support IP management processes in various ways. In our increasingly globalised workplace, we recognise that many clients are managing worldwide portfolios, so we looked for a way to use automation to make their lives simpler. Our DataSync feature, for example, allows clients to have their trade mark records automatically updated from more than 180 jurisdictions in real-time. This removes the burdensome task of manually checking and updating the progress of applications and ensures that users’ proprietary records always reflect their official status.

Another important feature of any tool that uses automation is control. Users need to have full visibility over what is being automated and the ability to audit when needed, to ensure outcomes are expected and are therefore trusted.

Intuitive and user-friendly

It seems like a no-brainer that technology should be easy-to-use, but it is surprising how often this isn’t the case. Successful technology links intuitively with the process it is designed to undertake and users can see logically how to incorporate it into their workflow. This requires developers to have a complete understanding of what their users are trying to achieve and how they have gone about this in the past.

Failure to get this right results in poor adoption and the phenomenon of “shelfware” where investment in technology fails to deliver ROI as users continue to do things the same way they’ve always done.

Integration and Flexibility

It’s no secret that the legal sector has a reputation for being on the slower side when it comes to technology adoption. It’s part of the natural caution that is intrinsic to the industry. However, this means that IPTech should be designed to integrate well with those tools that have become fully part of the legal infrastructure.

Tools such as Outlook and Excel, alongside international databases and national filing systems sit at the heart of daily operations, so it’s essential that new solutions integrate with them, while also pointing the way toward the future.

As the platform-based ecosystem develops, we can envisage a future where intellectual property portfolios are fully managed on a single platform that links directly with those of national IP authorities – and we’re seeing entities such as the UK IPO fully embracing digitisation, with its “One IPO” project, to make this more feasible. But it is still important to support     

Support Will Always be Essential

Intuitive software can get you a long way, but there will always be moments when you need to get one-to-one support tailored to the problem you’re trying to solve. That’s why we believe that the facility to have responsive, informed support available when you need it should be part of any decision to invest in an IPTech solution.

Future Roadmaps

The world of intellectual property is constantly changing, which means IPTech needs to keep evolving, too. There are exciting innovations in AI-powered searching and brand protection solutions on the horizon, and advances in robotic process automation that can lift the admin burden even further. One such area which is seeing rapid growth and desirability is the use of API technology to easily combine and overlay different data sets together. This can be very insightful for brand owners as it can help them highlight interesting patterns within their portfolio, or indeed help make important economic business decisions based on the powerful data they’re presented with.  

The intelligent application of automation and availability of advanced data analysis will free IP professionals to focus on the parts of their role that machines just can’t replace, such as designing robust and creative protection strategies and liaising with clients to understand their priorities and ambitions for their brand.

There are also the changing regulations and legislation in the sector. We had a taste of this with the UK’s exit from the EU – software has got to be flexible enough to adapt to changing scenarios, and the people behind it have to be utterly committed to ensuring this is the case.

Recently, members of the WebTMS team have been underlining their commitment to the sector by embarking on training, such as the CITMA paralegal course and The Patent Administrator Course by Management Forum that ensures we understand exactly what our users require when using WebTMS. This training, along with (extremely important) client feedback helps to inform our product development and innovation so our roadmap mirrors the needs of our customers.

Ultimately, the aim of IPTech must be to make our users’ professional lives simpler, make them more effective in their role, and support job satisfaction.

Find out more about the latest developments at WebTMS and meet our friendly team at IP Service World from 20-22 November 2022. Alternatively, contact a member of the team via [email protected].