The Intellectual Property (IP) sector is dynamic and complex, unlike any other. That is why those best placed to keep their finger on its pulse are seasoned IP professionals living the day-to-day business realities of their trade. It is exactly these experts that Dennemeyer surveys for the annual IP Trend Monitor study in collaboration with CTC Legal Media.
We received more than 1,000 answers and opinions from the most active IP Trend Monitor panel members, including lawyers, IP service professionals, in-house counsels and others with significant industry experience. The study addressed a number of today's most pressing topics, including the continued importance of technology in IP practice, lingering fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and the value of continually developing new skills for an evolving industry.
1. COVID-19's impact has diminished — but not disappeared
In 2021's edition of the Trend Monitor study, COVID-19 was the cloud hanging over every other issue. IP law firms, service providers and IP professionals across all industries had to change the way they worked, and so did the national and regional IP offices around the globe.
The 2022 study showed notable positive developments in pandemic-related areas. For example, when examining how IP offices were handling their operations, 71% of respondents said "reasonably well," a 10% jump from the previous year. Also, 14% answered "very well," double the percentage from 2021, and the rate of respondents saying IP offices were doing poorly dropped from 7% to 2%.
The persistent impact of COVID-19 is most evident in how it has altered where people work. Even with new cases on the decline in much of the world, a greater proportion of IP professionals expect more remote meetings and training and less travel in 2022 than in 2021. Additionally, the rate of IP specialists expecting to work from home rose 3% from its 2021 figure, hitting 71%.
2. IP protection is key to economic recovery
Despite the pandemic raging throughout 2020, the World Intellectual Property Organization's most recent Intellectual Property Indicators report found that global patent, trademark and design rights filings increased in 2020 by 1.6%, 13.7% and 2%, respectively.
This showcases a clear interest in IP rights protection among inventors, designers and brands. It also supports the general conclusion of respondents to the Trend Monitor survey: namely, that IP rights will be critical to maintaining "a stable, sustainable global economy." Respondents also highlighted the value of IP management for business success, with 49% calling it "very important" and 16% saying it was "indispensable."
3. Collaboration is critical in IP initiatives
When asked in the Trend Monitor survey about what they found most challenging about working in IP, respondents had a variety of answers with no obvious standout. But many responses focused in one way or another on the need to get other departments or stakeholders (including clients) to understand IP's importance fully.
It can be difficult to get other departments or stakeholders to truly appreciate the value of IP and to understand all the complexities involved in protecting and enforcing it. But it is important to keep trying, as IP plays a critical role in many businesses and industries.
For example, the area of work cited as a difficulty by most respondents was "justifying the expenses allocated to IP" at 38%, with "promoting the importance of IP within my organization" right behind it at 37%. Both "bringing departments together over IP" and "understanding what engineers and researchers are doing" were cited by 35% of respondents. The latter is particularly noteworthy as it shows that IP professionals want to expand their knowledge of other business areas as much as they expect others to understand IP. It speaks to a collaborative drive that could serve IP portfolios well in the long run.
4. Technology's importance grows
A whopping 77% of IP Trend Monitor respondents cited "a modern IP management system" as the most important thing that would help them work more efficiently. Today's IP management platforms and tools are increasingly digital, ranging from cloud-based or on-premises management software to machine-learning-supported patent search engines. By extension, panel members' most common response to what will make them more economical implies a focus on the value of technology that makes IP management easier.
Answering a question about which "language sets" (i.e., terminology and jargon) were essential for IP managers to know, legalese was the clear No. 1: 72% of participating panel members called it the most important. However, "science and technology" and "software and data processing" were respectively second and third (at 61% and 51%). All were well ahead of more traditional language sets like marketing.
5. The value of continuous skill development
Innovation moves at a breakneck pace in today's world. Because IP management, legal aid and related professional services are all laser-focused on protecting new creations, those in the field need to adapt and evolve in real-time to meet the demands of working at the very forefront of development.
Key data points from the Trend Monitor study support this conclusion. When asked to rank seven factors by their importance to "transform[ing] their IP department into a powerhouse," the second-highest-ranked element was "ongoing training on IP / legal issues," behind only recruiting. Elsewhere in the report, "never stop learning" was cited as one major warning to IP management leaders, and "always find opportunities for learning / training" was listed among best practices for an IP professional.
The insights above only scratch the surface of the those available in Dennemeyer's 2022 IP Trend Monitor study. To learn much more, download the study today!
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