Trade mark industry under pressure: the role of digital automation to unlock time


Trade mark industry under pressure: the role of digital automation to unlock time

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A look at recent statistics from around the trade mark community shows a sector that is booming. The UK IPO has seen record demand this year, with around 70,000 trade mark applications filed between January and April 2021, up from 37,000 in the same period over the previous two years. At the same time, the US PTO is experiencing a huge surge in trade mark filings, up more than 60% in the first six months of the year. Across the globe, many trademark registers are experiencing double digit growth, according to WTR analysis from March.    

In light of all this activity, it is no surprise that industry leaders are expecting workloads will continue to grow. World Trademark Review’s Elite Expert Panel project found that 77% had experienced growth in workloads over the six months to March 2021 and for a third growth had been significant. New projects launched in response to the pandemic, as well as the anticipation of a return to “normal” are suggested as reasons for the surge, which 85% of respondents expect to continue in the next six months.

Despite the increase in workload, the report found that client investment is not increasing at the same rate, and headcount has remained static or decreased for two thirds of those surveyed. As the WTR analysis concludes this means teams are overloaded and, with workload increases expected, they will be looking at “having to do more work with the same (or less) resource”.   

Deploying technology and automation to relieve workload pressures

With the industry facing increasing workloads, growing filing numbers and uncertain investment levels, there is a definite need for trademark teams to find solutions that improve efficiency and productivity without adding to cost.

“Digital Transformation” is usually presented as the silver bullet to this particular challenge and, as a firm that has a twenty-year history in helping law firms and in-house legal teams digitise the management of trade mark workloads, no one will be surprised to hear that WebTMS is firmly behind the application of technology to reduce administrative burdens and free up time for trade mark professionals to devote to higher value activities.

Right now, this is clearly more important than ever and, because WebTMS’s development ethos is firmly driven by customer requirements, it is timely that we have recently launched several new features that will help our customers to reduce the time spent managing their trade mark records:

Datasync – the global automated trade mark update tool

Datasync allows our clients to have their trade mark records automatically updated in more than 180 jurisdictions using the official data provided by our business partners TrademarkNow and Compumark. This eliminates the need to manually check and update the progress of applications and ensures that users’ proprietary records always reflect their official status.

Nick March, IP Business Development Manager at WebTMS, explains: “Datasync is an excellent application of automation to immediately reduce the amount of time trade mark administrators need to spend updating records. Users can be assured that their records are accurate and up to date at all times, with no manual intervention required beyond initial set-up.”

WebTMS recognises that full control is important for our clients, so the Datasync feature is optional and can be applied per individual records, in batches, or across the entire portfolio. Users can choose which jurisdictions and even which fields of the trade mark record they want to automatically update.  

Datasync is fully auditable – users can view previous and current data to complete visibility over the changes that have occurred at each sync – and records can be searched on synchronisation status.

“We have done everything we can to make Datasync as flexible as possible, so users can adapt it to the level of automation they are comfortable with and be assured that they remain in full control,” says Nick.

Importantly, for firms and in-house teams looking to do more with less, the Datasync functionality is included within the current WebTMS subscription fee – there is no upgrade fee or additional cost.

In addition to Datasync, WebTMS has also recently added or updated several software features that will increase usability. These include upgrades to our e-Docket and renewal wizards; an upgrade to our map visualisation reports, which allow clients to view the geographical coverage of their IP rights at a glance; and the facility to export data from each module via a web service supported by our API. This will allow clients to perform advanced data manipulation and management.

Transformation at the UK IPO

WebTMS is not the only organisation supporting digitisation and automation in the IP sector. The UK IPO recently announced its ‘One IPO’ transformation programme which is designed to “completely transform the way they are delivered to make the most of modern digital technology.”

UK IPO says that a single integrated system for all registered IP rights will sit at the heart of the programme. According to the organisation it “will allow creatives, innovators and businesses to seamlessly apply for, manage and research all of their IP rights in one place.” The full transformation programme is set to streamline many aspects of trade mark applications and registrations, and should help trade mark professionals save valuable time.

Part of the IPO’s transformation programme includes opening its data to third parties to power innovation and research. WebTMS will be tracking this closely with the target of integrating with the official data source when this becomes possible.

Digitisation and automation to power continued IP sector growth   

As firms and in-house teams assimilate increased workloads, ensuring that technology is working to help improve productivity and efficiency, while keeping costs under control, is going to be critical. As the sector continues on its upward trajectory, making full use of digitisation and automation tools will allow firms and in-house teams to grow and thrive.