During the last few years, there have been some major world events causing seismic shifts in the global economy and the landscape in which we live and work. As another year starts, it is a good time to reflect on the changes facing the IP sector. Vanessa Harrow outlines three changes that are likely to affect IP owners this year.
For IP owners, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) can impact your business in several ways.
As an initial step, we recommend you consider whether your IP portfolio remains fit for purpose or whether the developments in AI and AR mean you should rethink your filing, watching, and enforcement strategy. Moreover, as technology advances, so does the sophistication and opportunities of counterfeiters and copycats. Ensuring your IP strategy keeps up with these changes is critical for all IP owners.
In addition, although historically late to the party for utilising technological developments in service delivery, the legal sector has been embracing these changes. From relatively small changes which allow faster and more efficient delivery of the administrative elements of IP such as renewals and recordals, to embracing Chat GPT and other AI tools for the more complex legal services such as drafting and searching, the IP landscape is set to see some big changes in coming years.
For instance, in 2023 Markify (a Questel company) was the first intellectual property service provider to launch a ChatGPT-powered trademark service, aimed at letting users experience how an advanced Large Language Model like ChatGPT can serve in the context of trademark search. As part of the Questel Group, here at Novagraaf we know how important it is to embrace emerging technologies to compliment the high-quality traditional legal and consulting services we have been delivering for more than 135 years.
By working with firms who recognise and prioritise these developments, IP owners will not only benefit from the time and cost-saving efficiencies but will also be better placed to ensure they are not missing important changes in the IP landscape.
Alternative fee arrangements
The move from traditional fee structures to alternative fee arrangements has been emerging in recent years and we at Novagraaf believe it will become even more relevant in the coming year.
How many of us have heard the joke that a lawyer will start the billing clock as soon as they pick up the phone, even to friends and family? While said in jest, billable hours have been the default charging structure for decades. This method has, however, come under increased scrutiny in recent years.
Clients have less predictability with the billed hours model and in a time of economic uncertainty and tightened budget, alternative fee structures are becoming more and more appealing for many IP owners.
In recognition of this growing trend, Novagraaf had this at the forefront of the development of our Global Trademark Portfolio Management offering. Efficient and cost-effective global trademark portfolio management requires a careful balance of in-house and external support. At Novagraaf, we understand that there is no single way to manage trademark legal advice and administrative tasks, so we tailor our solutions to meet your exact needs. Those tailor-made solutions extend to offering tailor-made charging options, from the traditional billed hours model to fixed fee or even subscription-based charging.
As IP owners continue to face pressure to do more with less, these less traditional fee arrangements provide an interesting alternative. While the move away from billed hours has been relatively slow to date, it is predicted that there will be an acceleration in the year ahead as the traditional model no longer meets the needs of many IP owners.
On 1 January 2024, new rules came into effect concerning the UK IP Address for Service.
As a result of Brexit, the requirements for representation at the UKIPO changed on 1 January 2021 for an initial transition period which expired at the end of 2023. Under the new arrangement, from the start of 2024, all new UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) proceedings and requests require an address for service that is in the UK, Gibraltar, or Channel Islands, even if they related to the comparable rights which were cloned automatically when the UK left the EU in 2021.
While this change means a UK address for service is required for actions, it is not compulsory to have a UK address for service for all existing registrations at the UKIPO. For comparable rights created automatically on the UK’s departure from the EU, it is not compulsory to have a UK address for service, unless action is required, i.e. if they are just sitting on the register a UK representative is not necessary. Novagraaf issued guidance on this topic at the start of 2023 and the key takeaways from this remain relevant for the new year ahead.
The end of the transition period will impact the way many overseas businesses handle their IP matters in the UK but there are also some other potentially big changes on the horizon for UK IP owners. In July 2023, the UK Minister for AI and Intellectual Property responded to The Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys’ (CITMA) report on ‘Unregulated representatives in the UK Intellectual Property system’, confirming he had instructed the UKIPO to further investigate the issues raised by the report. A key finding of this report was that ‘UK IP system consumers are facing higher costs, delays and disruption to business as a result of the presence of unregulated representatives.’
This topic will continue to be discussed throughout 2024 and many in the UK Trade Mark profession are hoping we will see some important and much-needed changes in this area to ensure robust and appropriate protection for IP owners.
Key questions to consider:
- Is my IP portfolio and strategy keeping up with emerging technologies or do I need to make some changes?
- Does my current IP provider have a focus on emerging technologies allowing them to be proactive and identify where changes are needed to my portfolio and strategy?
- Does my current IP provide utilise emerging technologies in the delivery of their services to ensure I am benefiting from the efficiency and cost savings that such technologies can bring, as well as ensuring I am not missing important developments in the management of IP?
- How does my current IP provider charge for their services and does this still work for my business or should I explore alternative fee arrangements?
- Do my UK registered rights have an appropriate address for service to meet the regulatory requirements and ensure important notices reach me in a timely fashion?
- Is my UK IP work being handled by a representative authorised and regulated by IPReg and if not, what risks does this present to my business?
If you’d like to discuss how Novagraaf can help you navigate important changes affecting your IP portfolio and strategy, speak to your Novagraaf Attorney or contact us below.
Vanessa Harrow is a Managing Director, Trademarks at Novagraaf in the UK.