As a law firm in Singapore active in the area of Intellectual Property you will inevitably be confronted with one question: “How can we effectively and efficiently manage our clients’ IP portfolio?” While it seems obvious that embracing technology is a key part of boosting your business capability and remaining competitive, it is often challenging to modernize structures and processes which have been in place for years or even decades. This is where experienced IP service providers come into play who make use of their longstanding experience and expertise in this area to support local firms in bringing their IP processes to the next level.
Naturally, one of the key steps of increasing productivity in relation to your IP management is to make sure that your underlying software infrastructure is as advanced and reliable as possible. Technological innovations in the software solutions area include web-enabled intellectual asset management systems which combine the most valuable features of both a client-server solution and a web-based application.
Every law firm is different, not just in terms of their culture and staff, but also in terms of how they structure their work and client relationships. This is why the software needs to be highly configurable, user friendly and very compatible with existing IT infrastructures. When implementing a new software your software provider’s IT and IP experts should conduct an implementation study together with the end users to analyze their processes and requirements and come up with a solution which would meet their needs. Ideally, the various modules – trademarks, patents, designs, and further matters – can be deployed separately or as an all encompassing package to allow the most comprehensive intellectual asset management: from the initial idea over application and foreign filings to maintenance actions and licensing.
As with all software nowadays, user friendliness is key. A well structured and easy to use interface shortens the learning curve and reduces the training time for paralegals and other users of the system saving you time and costs and eventually leading to a better data quality. Tools like wizards, assisted record creation and clearly identified required fields further support this cause.
Singapore is a melting pot and local law firms are often involved with clients and cases stretching far beyond the borders of this little red dot. Hence, your software should be able to support multiple languages and characters (for example Chinese, Japanese, Cyrillic and Arabic), taking into account your multinational workforce and projects covering different parts of the world. A complete Unicode support and multilingual interface make sure that law firms are well prepared for this challenging working environment.
As projects and processes become more globalized, work habits and workspace arrangements are changing as well. Employers increasingly offer flexible working options such as working from home. In addition, a lot of work is done remotely during business trips when visiting clients or conferences.
Another aspect you should focus on when choosing your IP software is a robust and flexible search engine to ensure your team always gets the information they need. Since every database is only as good as the data being typed in, advanced software solutions offer special functionalities to eliminate duplicates and routine work and this would help channel your resources in more productive areas.
With the increasing amount of emails and attachments we receive every day the usage of a sophisticated document management system becomes more and more important. At best, emails and documents related to your IP rights and matters can be easily archived via drag and drop or are automatically assigned to the corresponding asset via the subject line content of an email. Law firms are encouraged to make use of such systems guaranteeing a secure and instant connection to everyone who needs access, from an inhouse docket clerk to your most precious contacts – your clients. Needless to say, the law firm should always have control of record and field level accessibility rights for all parties involved.
A modern IP management solution can even help to make collaboration more than just one of the buzzwords these days. All too often, the process of instructing your network of IP law firms around the world to perform a foreign filing on behalf of your client is either a half manual exercise or leads to duplicate data entry. Intelligent workflows, together with the opportunity to upload files directly into your document management system, can save both time and resources in this regard.
This article was first published in Law Gazette, the official publication of The Law Society of Singapore, issue September 2017.
The authors contribute to this blog in their personal capacity. The views expressed are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dennemeyer IP Solutions, Dennemeyer & Associates, or Dennemeyer Consulting.