How To Choose An IP Management System



Questel is a true end-to-end intellectual property solutions provider serving 20,000 organizations in more than 30 countries for the optimal management of their IP assets portfolio. Whether for patent, trademark, domain name, or design, Questel provides its customers with the software, tech-enabled services, and consulting services necessary to give them a strategic advantage.
Choosing an IP management system is a significant decision for any organization.
Worldwide Intellectual Property
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Choosing an IP management system is a significant decision for any organization. Not only does the chosen software need to fulfill all your requirements, but when entrusting sensitive data to an external organization, it is paramount to ensure it is secure. Sam Nicholson, Managing Director of Equinox, a Questel company, shares six key questions when comparing IP management systems.

1. How Easy Is It to Get Started?

Adopting a new IP management system (IPMS) can be daunting. Your organization will have spent years refining its processes into a well-oiled machine, and introducing new software could introduce new complexity and issues. The best software providers will guide you through the onboarding process with minimum hassle to make adoption as easy as possible.

Your IPMS supplier should be responsive to your needs and able to cater to your specific requirements, including tailoring the system to fit your processes. The best suppliers will explain how their software can adapt to how you operate today—and, more importantly, how it can enhance your practices. Don't settle for a 'one-size-fits-all' approach.

When the time comes to onboard onto your chosen system, the software provider should make the process as clear and easy to follow as possible. You should expect comprehensive instruction on the system before you go live so that you and your team feel confident in how to get the most from the software from day one.

The friendly onboarding team at Questel supports users through the whole process, from their first demo of their chosen Equinox IP Management Software to data migrations and training—and the support doesn't stop there. New users can also contact our Help Desk for fast, approachable support whenever necessary.

2. How Well Maintained is the System?

Some software companies go years without releasing an update, leaving users with slow and vulnerable systems. Updates iron out bugs and keep your software running smoothly. Without them, you will have issues.

When exploring the range of IPMS solutions on the market, ask how often their software is updated and determine the quality of their development teams. A good development team will get users on the latest version of their software as promptly as possible and communicate how these changes will benefit their organizations.

The Questel development team releases small updates approximately every two weeks, so you can be confident you're always on the latest version. These updates deliver new functionality, bug fixes, and security updates. Well-updated software is more secure and works better, so don't settle for less!

3. How Secure Is Your Data?

Security is a priority. When your organization stores any data within an IPMS, it should feel 100% confident that everything in that system is protected. Whether that data is stored with the software provider or on your organization's own server, it should be safe with maximum visibility for the user.

Any good IPMS will have a thorough data security framework in place. Consider how the provider will store your data, including the level of support specifically focused on data management and security. Availability is vital, so ask about uptime, too. You don't want to find that you can't access your data at a sensitive moment.

At Questel, we have a dedicated Data Services team responsible for data transfer and management and a meticulous Operations team that ensures the best software security measures are in place. Having teams with specific expertise allows the appropriate level of attention towards ensuring your system and data are secure and available.

4. Will You Have Access to Dedicated Support?

If you need help using the system or troubleshooting an issue, your team must be confident that it can get prompt support. IP management is time-sensitive and requires quick action, so if there's an issue at an inopportune moment, IPMS users must be able to rely on a quick resolution to keep their portfolio on track.

Take care to consider the quality of an IPMS provider's support team. Is support available when you might need it? How quickly can they respond to your queries? The strongest software companies have a dedicated help desk that can respond to you and help with your issue as fast as possible.

Our dedicated Help Desk team are experts in all things Equinox. They'll handle your issue quickly and work with our wider team to resolve your problems. In addition, we provide access to a multimedia Help Centre with a vast catalog of documents and videos you can access independently, allowing you to configure your system and learn at your own pace.

5. Will the Software Support You As You Grow?

The global intellectual property landscape is ever-changing, and an IPMS needs to keep on top of these developments to support all users. Choose an IPMS provider that can deliver:

  • Responsive IP law updates

An IP management system relies on pre-set workflows that align your processes with different jurisdictional requirements (sometimes known as law files). They help you through the IP management process by prompting you when a task needs attention, so must be regularly reviewed and updated in line with legislative developments to ensure that cases are handled properly within the system.

A strong IPMS supplier will monitor legislative developments and issue updates to users as soon as possible. This demonstrates that their system is being maintained regularly and offers users a vital global law resource.

Questel operates a devoted IP Services team that keeps its finger on the pulse of international IP law. When a country changes its rules, our users are notified through regular newsletters. They can also have their pre-set processes updated when they come into effect to keep their cases in line with the law. This takes a small job away from your team so they can focus on managing your IP portfolio.

  • Innovative development

A forward-thinking development team will anticipate its users' needs ahead of time. When new laws or practices come into action, your software provider should have anticipated this change and pre-emptively updated the system to account for it and avoid delays.

For example, when the Unitary Patent system came into effect in June 2023, Equinox already had functionality in place to allow users to manage their cases, with built-in functionality for opt-outs.

When choosing your IPMS, consider how the provider reacts to changes in the industry. Will the provider anticipate your needs? Look for strong development experience and an innovative approach to ensure confidence in the longevity of your software.

  • Scalability

When your portfolio expands or you get new team members, your IPMS should scale with you. Some software providers limit the number of users an organization can maintain on the system, making it difficult when the business grows. As a result, organizations should take care to choose a supplier that scales with rather than against their growth; an IPMS should be willing and capable to help a firm grow.

Our Equinox IP management software is fully scalable. Not only does our IPMS keep up with you as your organization grows, but it also helps you continue that growth. Many users have seen a seamless transition as they take on new employees and win new clients.

"We feel vindicated in our choice of Questel's Equinox system as a modular IPMS that allows us to grow in complexity and sophistication as our firm has rapidly grown. Using Equinox Law Firm allows us to set in place workflows that are ready for scale while being operable at the smaller scale our firm started at."

Read the full case stud

David Müller-Wiesner


6. How Adaptable and Accessible Is the System?

You've spent years perfecting your IP management processes, and your software should work around your needs. Better yet, it should enhance your abilities and maximize your impact. To ensure you make the best choice, look out for:

  • Strong configuration options

One IP professional will operate differently from the next, with variations as granular as the terminology used in their processes and as broad as how they communicate with clients or leadership. Your organization is unlike any other, so why settle for a universal approach?

When adopting an IPMS, choose one that fits into and enhances your existing processes rather than forcing your team to adapt.

Questel's Equinox software is designed to enhance the processes you already use. As part of the onboarding process, we take the time to consider how organizations already operate and explore how we can configure the system to enhance their processes. This is done by helping select and upload pre-set processes from our extensive catalog and can extend to details as small as changing the terminology used in the system interface. Your IPMS should make as many changes as possible to fit in with and enhance your practices.

  • Software integration

From emails to invoices, IP professionals rely on a wide range of software systems to do their job. Their chosen IPMS should integrate seamlessly with those systems to make handling a case as simple as possible. Our Equinox software is packed with integrations.

The Microsoft Office plugin allows you to create, edit, and save templates and original documents into your system, with everything saved with the case it corresponds to. We also have handy email integrations that allow you to create template emails and automate notifications with ease. You can also integrate your popular financial and accounting services, including Xero, Sage, and Billtrader, to manage.

As importantly, our Equinox IPMS also works seamlessly with a vast range of IP management-specific services, including dedicated connectors for our patent renewals, trademark renewals, and trademark clearance & watch software, patent data, and IP Services Portal.

  • Accessibility and availability

An IPMS should be easy to use and available from anywhere. A cloud-based and browser-accessible system is the best option as it can be accessed from a variety of devices and does not require a time-consuming software download. This helps your team access the system more quickly and stay responsive when needed. It's much simpler for home working too, as you won't need to worry about remote desktops.

The software interface should be easy to understand and clear to follow. A modern, clear, and crisp design for your software may not seem like a major priority compared to other factors, but when you and your colleagues are using the IPMS daily, ensuring the software is simple to operate is a must.

Key things to remember when choosing an IPMS

It's better to adopt an IP management system that can be configured and shaped to fit the way you work. Your organization has spent years honing its practices, methods, and approach to IP management. Your IPMS should enhance how you work and not force your team into a one-size-fits-all system.

When you grow, the IPMS you choose should grow with you. Consider the longevity of your time with the software; if you take on new staff or clients, you should be confident that the software you rely on is ready and willing to support and accelerate your success.

Your IPMS provider should have its finger on the pulse of the industry and anticipate your needs. You should be confident that your software is kept in line with every jurisdiction in which you operate with regular updates to the system and its pre-set processes. With legal technology developing to be increasingly integrated, your IPMS needs to follow this trajectory and include as many integrations as possible with other services you use.

Overall, the best way to choose an IPMS is to consider the quality of your experience with the software from your first exposure to the system right through to when you need support. Choose a provider that gives you confidence in its service from day one.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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