IP Best Practices in the time of Covid-19
That’s the number of patent applications that were filed at the IP5 offices (IP5 is the name given to a forum of the five largest IP offices in the world) in 2020. Also, 1.3 million patents were granted by the IP5 offices in the same year. The year 2020 has been unprecedented because of a strain of virus called Covid-19 that has wreaked havoc across the world.
The world of IP has faced major setbacks during these turbulent times. Covid-19 has affected almost every industry that you can possibly think of, and businesses need to have a trick or two up its sleeve to make things right, or at least get back to normal. Even having to operate majorly in an online-only tech-based environment has put pressure in the existing systems, and on the people running it. It has been more than a year since the term Coronavirus has become a mainstay in our lives, but the repercussions from it are far from over. Also, the virus is still there.
Below are some of the best IP practices that businesses can follow during Covid:
#1 Review your IP inventory:
Make a note of all your patent, trademark, copyright registrations, pending applications, and any renewals and deadlines. Write down all the confidential information that gives your company a competitive advantage.
Here is what you need to do:
- Write in detail about the confidential information in a separate file
- Name the stakeholders who have access to it and how they can access it.
- List out the measures that you have taken to keep the information confidential.
- Ensure that you are in a position to meet any renewals or deadlines
- Do check for any royalty agreements and see if the payments are being made on time.
Once you do all the above, you will know where and how your assets are parked. It will allow you to take immediate actions if necessary.
#2 Be up to date with the happenings in the world:
The pandemic has affected the day-to-day operations of patent offices across the world. While some of them are in a complete state of lockdown, others have adopted a hybrid structure with respect to filings, physical hearings, procedural compliances, and so on.
Businesses that are looking to file their trademark or patent application internationally should consult with their IP firm to get apprised of the various rules that are being followed this time. World Trademark Review that constantly updates the measures taken by IP offices during this time.
#3 Evaluate your product strategy:
There is no doubt that the pandemic would have caused a seismic change in how consumers behave. Everything from their buying process to even reviewing and searching patterns will change. Find out the changes in user behavior with the help of user surveys, focus group discussions, face-to-face interviews, 3rd party agencies, and so on.
Analyze the results to find out which are the products in demand. Build these products with the end consumer in mind. Make sure that the products are created with innovation and diligence at its core so that even the consumers are able to emotionally connect with it.
#4 Leverage international filing protocols:
Agreements such as the Madrid Protocol and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) have made it possible to streamline IP filing and search procedures, thanks to making the information available in a centralized database. Thanks to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, major expenses can be deferred for international filings, not to mention the time that is saved in going after this.
#5 Keep strategically investing in IP:
The new normal doesn’t mean that one should go entirely on the defensive and not engage in innovation at all. In fact, innovation is at the core of adapting to the new normal. Businesses should make use of technologies like automation, machine learning, internet of things, etc. to reduce the Go-To-Market time and monetize the product. It is also wise to assess your existing protocols to look for IP that has untapped potential.
Despite the challenges that all of us are witnessing at this moment, one can safely assume that there will always be opportunities. If you don’t look out for them actively, it will not be possible to seize them. The opportunities will not only be limited to finding new areas to innovate, it could also be about acquiring IP from a competing firm that is looking to pivot or monetize their portfolios or finding a means to improve the strength of your present portfolio. If you keep looking hard enough, you will eventually stumble upon something worth the pursuit.
#6 Manage your legal spending wisely:
Having good counsel or an IP firm to help you out immensely, especially during these troubled times, is a wise strategy to indulge in. You can let go of assets that are not important to the company anymore.
By choosing to let go of IP assets that are no longer valuable, you will enjoy the following:
- Won’t have to spend time in extending the validity of the patent.
- Avoid paying maintenance costs.
- Avoid paying fines for forgetting to comply with regulations.
Do not hesitate to hire an IP firm assuming that it would increase your costs, they will be able to offer you the best advice that will help you capitalize on your existing IP while minimizing your risk. The IP firm might even find ways to increase your revenue through the IP assets you have.
#7 File single-class trademark applications:
Businesses should make it a point to register their brands or marks which are not too descriptive in nature around the world, especially in areas where you plan to expand. You can file single class applications as it will reduce the filing and registration maintenance fees. When there are multiple classes in your application, the higher is the risk of an opposition. On top of that, single class applications are easier and faster to register, and less expensive.
#8 Protect your copyright/design:
The reason why we would like to specifically insist on protecting your copyright and design is because most businesses view it as an extra expenditure. The truth is that these forms of IP can be used to protect innovation. Make sure that the agreements and compliances are in order and updated.
#9 Be investor ready:
Even if you are not expecting a windfall in terms of investors knocking on your doors, you need to be prepared for such a situation. Businesses should proactively take steps to protect and safeguard their IP. It offers an assurance to the prospective investor that you have lucrative IP assets.
Wrapping it up:
During these uncertain times, businesses should strategically look at all their options. There is no room for any uncertainty or not having a plan in place. They should protect their IP at all costs by filing and enforcing their IP rights, plan effectively, use the right legal tools, hire an experienced IP firm, and so on.
The immediate future will bring us ample opportunities. Businesses which have a deep understanding of its IP assets and follow the best practices for protecting and managing its assets will be able to rise to the challenges posed by this pandemic and come out a winner.
When you have a strong IP firm providing you sound advice, you will be in a good position to tackle this Black Swan called Covid-19. By taking their advice, you can effectively balance your IP portfolio and wade through this uncertainty with little to zero troubles to your brand or IP.