Add value in how you package the data

  • Businesses are becoming more conscious about managing the risks associated with IP rights
  • Companies are going to want more reliable calculations of brand value and better benchmarking of their competitors
  • New markets will emerge while some may decline, Brazil, China and India are likely to become more important

Currently, AI tools for tasks such as searching, prosecution and evidence are rightly at the forefront of people’s concerns. But there are other areas where the trademark service industry will develop over the next few years. As we discuss in our report on patent service providers, businesses are becoming more conscious about managing the risks associated with IP rights. This will be partly addressed through better data analysis, but there are also likely to be opportunities for economists and accountants specialising in valuation and even insurance brokers. Whether in M&A, venture funding or settlement negotiations, companies are going to want more reliable calculations of brand value than they have been used to until now, and better benchmarking of their competitors.

Enforcement is another field with great potential, driven by monitoring, image searching and identification tools developed both by intermediaries such as Alibaba and Amazon and by specialist providers such as MarkMonitor (now part of Clarivate Analytics). The fragmented nature of counterfeiting today (with sales online and individual packages being shipped) demands these sorts of technology solution, claims one in-house counsel, who adds: “What we would really like to see is the kind of packaging of opinions you get from law firms using bundled search services. Nobody’s doing the equivalent of that in counterfeiting.”

New markets will emerge, while some may decline. As discussed in more detail in our report on in-house trademark departments, Brazil, China and India are likely to become more important, along with some of the high-growth countries in Africa and those on the One Belt One Road initiative. By contrast, Brexit may lead the United Kingdom to be seen as a lower-growth market, which presents higher risk for new product launches – at least until the future terms of trading are known. One service provider predicts that the so-called DAS countries (the three main German-speaking markets in Europe) are “underestimated”, “this is the engine of Europe. Their combined intellectual property is huge.”

There could also be some changes in terms of customers. Big corporations are cutting budgets, using free tools and offshoring some work. This may encourage service providers to look further afield for new business. For example, IP offices may become bigger users of commercial services in one form or another: the TMview visual search uses technology developed by TrademarkVision. Diversification could even extend to university researchers and other government agencies. If such opportunities arise, service providers must consider how best to target these new customers and work with them.

In all these areas, how analysis is presented will also become increasingly important. The next generation of clients will not only want information more quickly, they will also expect convenience: services provided on an app, in an accessible format and updated in real time. “New applications will have to be designed for attorneys to access what they need in the way that they need it,” argues one service provider. That means features such as task lists, an inbox combining messages from various sources, sorting of relevant emails and tasks and prompts for urgent actions will be essential. “There is value in how you package the data,” professes one trademark lawyer.

Customisation and localisation will also increase – but they can be tricky to achieve. As one provider explains: “Platforms are great for scale but terrible to personalise. Don’t just slap some Chinese language on the top of it.” There is also a balance to be struck between providing comprehensive valuable information, with relevant datasets, and offering it in a way that clients (including non-IP specialists) can easily understand. “Heatmaps look great,” as one in-house counsel enthuses, “but if no one understands what they mean without having a tutorial, they’re virtually useless.”

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