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National Account Manager at CPA Global, Lila Milford, explains why she thinks new technology, and the change it brings, is an opportunity rather than a threat to organisations and professionals globally.  

The thought of implementing new technology into your organisation can feel like breaking through a brick wall. From your invoice management software to internal communications tools, changes in technology are not always easy to achieve. 

Intellectual Property Management traditionally meant a mountain of paper files and several finance, marketing and product development executives needing information instantly that took hours to find and present. 

Today, cloud-based IP management software makes maintaining electronic files and providing information on an IP portfolio much more streamlined. New technology has made things more automated and better connected than ever before. 

Yet, there is often a temptation to avoid change at all costs – why change something that is working? Why face the pain of learning new systems and a different way of working?

Opportunities for growth

Embracing new technology should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. Why? Because advancement in technology creates an opportunity for advancement in our professional roles.

Anyone who saw the movie Hidden Figures will recall that, in 1961, there was a group of women working for NASA who calculated by hand the numerous mathematical equations necessary for the safe launch of an astronaut into orbit and back to earth. In the same year, NASA invested in an IBM machine that was able to calculate 24,000 equations a minute. So, what happened to the women working as calculators? Dorothy, one of the women leading the team, learned how to operate and maintain the new technology, giving herself and her colleagues a new role.

In the last ten years, people have welcomed new technology into their homes like never before. We have moved from large home computers to tablets, from MP3 players and DVDs to streaming apps. Business has gone through an equally seismic technology change. In IP management, the industry has moved from fax communication of the 1980s, to installing local servers that manage docket and file histories, to cloud-based management software.

Embracing change

While some resistance to change is inevitable, Hidden Figure's Dorothy showed that each change presents itself as an opportunity. What is not shown in the movie is how difficult it would have been to get buy-in from management and her team, and how she must have overcome her own reluctance to change. Yet ultimately Dorothy’s work became better, more enriching and challenging. 

Another reason to embrace technology is that it can help an organisation and its people to thrive. Renu Thomas is EVP of Media Operations, Engineering and ITY at Disney/ABC. In a recent talk at Berkeley, Renu highlighted the opportunity Walt Disney (the man) saw in the transition from cinema to home TV, while other industry peers saw it as a threat. “For organisations to thrive, they must continue to break barriers and deploy cutting-edge technology,” Renu said.

Renu described how Disney patented the technology behind cloud-based broadcasting. The result was transformational. With the traditional model of broadcasting it would have taken months of engineering and more than a million dollars of capital to launch a new TV channel - now it takes two to three hours and $1,500.

Disney’s core competency is to tell the best stories with the best people, processes, and technology. In IP management, the goal is to capture ideas and foster value throughout the idea’s lifecycle.

People often look for something final: a beginning or an end that will mean that everything will remain the same – safe and secure. But, as the cliché goes, life is a journey and embracing new technology is part of that process. It expands our minds, drives new opportunities and adds value.

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In his new blog, Simon Webster discusses how collaboration, within a company or with individual innovators around the globe, will drive the next generation of ideas. 

CPA Global was founded as Computer Patent Annuities (CPA) in 1969 to provide patent renewal services for law firms. As the name suggests, even fifty years ago the company was founded with the ambition to automate the process.

During our lifetime, the nature of innovation – and our business - has changed significantly.  In the 1970s innovation was primarily the domain of large companies – and it was often undirected.  Unbelievable as it seems, I can recall a time when large companies simply asked research and development (R&D) staff to work on whatever interested them, in the hope that something commercial came from their work. 

All of this is unthinkable today.  The ceaseless pressure on margins in business - combined with the disruptive power of digital - has changed innovation forever.  I reckon I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of companies that have the capability to support undirected innovation. 

While Google famously encourages its employees to spend 20 percent of their time working on projects that would be most beneficial to the company, it still publishes a set of factors that drive how innovation works internally.  

The reality is that as much important innovation now comes from start-ups as from large, established companies with huge R&D departments.  Often smaller companies have the benefit of being agile: able to collaborate more efficiently; deploy more effective technologies and roll out solutions quickly.  For larger companies, the struggle to focus innovation in this environment is very real.  R&D cannot be siloed when competitive pressures are constantly increasing.

The challenges faced by innovators in large and small companies is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about recently.  Many of our customers are large corporates and law firms.  But as the innovation landscape changes, we want to be able to support all innovation, wherever it comes from.  Thanks to the Internet, collaboration has never been simpler.  This drives new methods of ideas generation, bringing together world class leaders in diverse fields to address complex problems with powerful new technology tools.

One of the drivers behind our product IdeaScout was to help facilitate faster innovation. The software is designed to speed up the pace of turning ideas into intellectual property and help innovators quickly understand the IP landscape around any specific idea.  The software enables companies to track who is working on what and facilitates collaboration between inventors.  Ideas can be quickly analysed for relevant patents, helping companies and individuals prioritise innovation.

There is still a lot more we want to do. Collaboration, within a company or with individual innovators around the globe, will drive the next generation of ideas. It will need to. Many of the most critical issues that the world faces – such as climate change, sustainable supplies of drinking water, addressing an ageing population - are global. They also need to be addressed quickly. These highly complex issues will require the best minds working together to deliver a timely and effective solution. Enabling this collaboration is something I am determined CPA Global will play an important part in.

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A comprehensive survey of almost 400 IP professionals across IP law firms and corporate IP departments has revealed the pressures IP law firms are under. They need to grow profitably and, at the same time, are subject to client requests to reduce costs and increase strategic advice.

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Machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have a long history – the industry was born in the 1950s.  Yet it is only in recent years that the technology has come to prominence, driven by on demand computer processing power and the vast increase in stored data.  ML and AI patents grew at a 34 per cent compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2017.  Yet it is the impact that ML and AI has on the ideation process that may have the most profound impact on the intellectual property industry.

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This is my third in a series of 3 blogs. In the first blog, I discussed how a patent had extrinsic vs intrinsic value and it really depended on just a few things.  I then proposed a simple framework for ranking that had seven elements.  In the next blog I discussed how frame of reference affected the possible rankings, and how different experts, with different perspectives can all provide different, even conflicting rankings that are correct.  Also layered on here was a temporal affect – where the arc of technology would also change the importance of competing technologies relative to each other as might circumstance. So on the one hand it’s simple and the other it’s hopelessly complex – and how does one make use of that?

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Any data or information that can be used to identify a person online is personal and needs to be protected. This could include names, email addresses, images, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or even a computer IP address. It is important that certain guidelines are followed and practices are put into action to safeguard this personal information and stop it from being mishandled or misused.

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Our IP technology guru, Jon-James Kirtland, has seventeen years’ experience in the IP industry. Leading the redevelopment of key technology solutions such as Forecast, Jon-James has been at the forefront of innovation driven technology and holds a unique perspective on the role of trademark departments in the future of IP management.

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This article originally appeared in Trademark Lawyer on May 1, 2017

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More than 10,000 global attendees will be heading to Seattle, Washington for INTA 2018 and we will be there too! Come and say hello to the team, we’ll be on booth #239, demonstrating the power of The IP Platform bringing together the technology, services and tools connecting the IP industry.

Outside of the exhibition hall, some of our IP gurus will be moderating INTA Table Topics. Table Topics are a great networking opportunity to discuss topics of interest over lunch or breakfast with a small group of like-minded professionals. Come prepared to join in on the conversation and share your thoughts.

Sunday, 20 May. Our IP product guru Jon-James Kirtland will moderate ‘What does technology enable your trademark department to do? What should you be deploying it for?’. Replicating a focus group environment, participants will have the chance to debate what is possible with technology, and what still requires human input. Get a head start by reading Jon-James’s thoughts on combating today’s international filings challenges with technology.

Monday 21 May. Our Trademark Protection expert Dawn Logan Keeffe moderates ‘A masterclass in renewals for trademark attorneys’. Trademark professionals understand renewals are often seen as the sole responsibility of administrators and paralegals, but Dawn will reveal how attorneys and administrators/paralegals should work closely together over a trademark’s lifespan. Dawn has worked in the IP industry for more than fifteen years and is an expert in IP protection, with a focus on utilising trademark portfolio maintenance and management. You can learn more about Dawn’s IP career and journey in her blog: A sit down with Dawn Logan Keeffe

Wednesday 23 May. Known by almost everyone at INTA(!), Jayne Durden – our VP of Solutions Marketing and Strategy – will be moderating on ‘Mergers and acquisitions: the top five do’s and don’ts’ – helping trademark professionals navigate the complicated landscape of merging companies. Find out more on how to manage deals worth billions of dollars with the results often dictating the long term fortunes of companies. Also on Wednesday, Jayne will moderate Managing Trademarks Clutter in a Busy ‘Internet of Things’ World, exploring the key challenges of trademark clutter, and discussing potential solutions. Jayne recently contributed a Trademark Lawyer article on empowering trademark teams for global brand protection.

You can also meet Jayne at our booth to discuss the results of our comprehensive survey – uncovering the IP lawyer of the future. Conducted in collaboration with Managing IP and leading market research company B2B International, the survey findings offer a clear insight into the legal challenges IP professionals face in a fast-paced, ever-evolving IP-led economy.

Make sure to stop by booth #239 for your free copy of the survey. We hope to see you there.

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A World Trademark Review study found that 81 per cent of the 1000 most common words in the English language are registered single-word trademarks. This is good news for those businesses who will benefit from the goodwill associated with brand recognition and visibility. But, with many trademarks too broad and forgettable, it can be challenging to identify a new brand that will differentiate from competitors and build a trusted brand name.

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