Conclusion: the office of the future

  • Most routine tasks will be taken care of automatically
  • Work will primarily be done from a tablet or smartphone
  • The traditional office will be a thing of the past

How different will a trademark counsel’s daily work be in a decade’s time? The answer is probably quite a lot. Below is a scenario based on various predictions made by interviewees in the research for this report.

The office will change every day. One day, you might be working from home or travelling to visit another part of the business. Another day you might be sitting with the marketing, the accounts or the risk management team.

Wherever you are, you will be working primarily from a tablet or your smartphone. Computers and landline phones will rarely be required. Most of the interaction you have with colleagues and external suppliers will be through secure apps or instant messaging rather than email.

Your devices will alert you when there is something pressing that requires action, but for many routine tasks they will not need your input. However, you will receive daily, weekly and monthly automated reports on the projects you have identified as important. These might include tracking spending on IP protection for a new campaign, the latest milestones in an important litigation or the latest numbers on an automated campaign to track counterfeit products on a popular online marketplace.

With most of the routine tasks taken care of automatically and quickly reviewed on your commute into wherever you are working today (which might be in a self-driving car or using a carshare scheme), the rest of the day will be devoted to meetings with other departments in the company. These could include the regulatory and public affairs departments to discuss what to do about some proposed packaging restrictions; advertising, to provide guidance on how far they can go with a new social media campaign; or finance, who need to estimate the tax benefits that can be gained from the company’s intangible assets in one of the company’s overseas locations. You also conduct some training and awareness sessions for company staff.

For most trademark tasks, you will simply need to tick a box on an app to indicate what response is needed. In fact, as it is probably easier, you will use the speech recognition function to tell the app what you want doing and dictate any instructions that need to be sent out. There are a few tricky issues that the computer is not able to deal with: how to argue that your multimedia mark application of a sports video is distinctive; what to suggest to an agent who has some unusual demands for a celebrity endorsement; or how to approach the outside counsel in a certain country whose invoice threatens to come in way over the agreed budget. These issues will need to be dealt with by sending a message or making a phone call.

At the end of the day, your devices will give you an update on anything important you have missed while you were in meetings, such as significant postings on the group chat app for your department, any topics of interest on social media, associations or publications you subscribe to and any notable judgments posted. You will not have to read these, of course: the app will summarise the key points for you (in a language of your choosing), and if there is anything you are not clear about you can ask it to provide more information. You can also tell it to share relevant information with any colleagues who need to know.

Your day might not be less busy than it is today; in fact, what with the work done during the commute and the ability to log in and check progress on tasks at any time, it may feel that it is harder than ever to escape work. But when you do finally sit down and have your chef robot prepare you something to eat and drink in the evening, you will probably feel like you have had a very productive day.

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