The value is in the data analysis

  • Data will be key in the development of new trademark tools
  • Providing raw data will become increasingly unattractive
  • Service providers will find themselves in tension with both trademark attorneys and IP offices when it comes to utilising data

Data will be key in the development of new trademark tools. Historically, trademark data has been preserved by national IP offices, but increasingly, it is becoming free (in both senses of the word). It is also becoming abundant: publicly available initiatives such as the WIPO’s Global Brand Database or the various services collected in the European Trademark and Design Network (such as TMview and Designview) will become more and more comprehensive and accessible.

Therefore, for commercial providers providing that kind of raw data will become increasingly unattractive. One competitor describes it as “a big problem for the legacy guys” and adds “the value is in the data analysis”. However, those legacy guys also have huge market penetration so if they can invest in the analysis then they should have a head start. What will that data analysis involve? One aspect of that is identifying the relevant data and supplementing it where necessary: “In some places data is not available digitally or it has simply been lost. It will get better as we move along,” predicts one interviewee. For example, one former in-house counsel points out that international systems such as the Madrid Protocol are moving to e-services but are constrained by their slowest member offices. Another aspect is turning raw data into useful advice. As one respondent advises: “The skill is taking potentially hundreds of thousands of reports and asking how closely can they approximate to individual circumstances?”

In going down this route, service providers will increasingly find themselves in tension with both trademark attorneys and IP offices, and this will have to be confronted. They may also have to pay more attention to issues around data protection, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation, particularly if they are holding personal data. For example, this might be the case if they are compiling examples of how consumers use trademarks for investigating counterfeiting and piracy cases.

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