As we move further into a digitally managed existence, the resources needed to manage IP assets and patents are changing.
The speed of digitisation of data and the supporting infrastructure brings fresh challenges to the industry.

Competing data management systems

There are multiple types of technological developments available for supporting, registering and storing different types of Intellectual Property, including patents and trade marks.
Historically, patent offices ran and maintained physical records of documentation. This meant that searching for patents was also manual, and extremely time-consuming. In addition, access to records by third parties had to be requested, which again took time and may not have been granted.

Accessible global data

Modern technology has improved access to information for everyone as patent offices can easily provide digital patent documentation. The process of digitising physical records to bring all data into new systems is however ongoing. This has revolutionised the patent sector, as it’s now easy to search patents when needed. Patent solicitors can access the same information as examiners and review inventions accordingly.
Data can also be collated on a global level, giving much more comprehensive information for legal proceedings. The need to access global databases has kick started the development of specific patent searching online platforms including Total Patents, Patsnap and Thomson Innovation.
There’s no doubt that IT and technological advances are pushing the development of patent data and IP systems, but it’s not without certain challenges.

Managing IP portfolios

The increase in the amount of data makes managing portfolios on behalf of businesses and patent offices challenging. New regulations also mean new policies, which can cause issues surrounding compatibility.
For example, IP management tools such as IPfolio and G2 Crowd work in innovative ways to manage IP assets. While the tools have in built functionality that can be used to track prosecution details, they can’t yet effectively integrate varied regulatory changes.

Database vulnerabilities

Data must be updated from differing sources and the number of patents increases every day. This means that the work of keeping global databases updated is increasingly challenging.
It also brings into question the data’s authenticity. Patent documents also present language based challenges, as accessing multiple languages isn’t realistic for the end user. Database providers must therefore have the functionality to deliver translated documentation in order for thorough and comprehensive searches to work.

Search tools for IP and trade marks

There are various IP search tools available, both free and paid for. These generally provide access to global patent records. They differ in that some, Orbit Intelligence, is linked with an external database provider. Others, such as Thomson Innovation and TotalPatent, use their own back end information databases.
Either way, they both allow you to search for patents in any language. Certain patent searching tools, including Questel and Thomson Innovation have begun also providing trade mark data.
As with other sectors, there is scope for developing IT infrastructure within IP to allow most functions to occur automatically. The use of AI (artificial intelligence) systems are beginning to be used to improve IP asset management and increase efficiency. The combination of AI with human intervention will lead to a new era in IP.
Dawn Ellmore Employment was incorporated in 1995 and is a market leader in intellectual property and legal recruitment.