The key challenges front of mind for global in-house IP practitioners
Every year, Managing IP conducts an annual industry survey as part of the client feedback research for its legal directory, IP STARS. This year, as part of that survey, more than 700 in-house IP practitioners globally shared their thoughts on market trends. In this special report, we summarise their insights along with exclusive interviews with five leading in-house counsel.
The Unitary Patent; anti-suit injunctions; NFTs; the metaverse; and a renewed focus on sustainability: as the world rebuilds after the pandemic, IP counsel around the world face new and complicated challenges.
As part of the research for IP STARS this year, we asked corporate counsel about the firms they use, what influences their choice and what their key priorities are (see the charts in this report). We also invited them to identify the top three IP market trends or issues affecting IP owners in their jurisdiction. Their responses cover many fascinating topics. Some frequently surface, others are more unusual.
This report provides a snapshot of those responses: 10 key trends that reflect a popular concern. This is not an exhaustive study, but with more than 700 responses and a global footprint, it gives a diverse perspective on the key challenges facing IP today.
Read the full report here.
Our previous survey reports:
The IP STARS 2021 survey data revealed in-house clients’ views on 12 factors when choosing a law firm for intellectual property work and the likelihood of changing their current IP law firm. The majority of respondents agreed those factors were essential to their decision-making process and said it was unlikely they would change their law firms soon.
We conducted the survey in 2021 (February 2021 to May 2021) to gauge in-house client sentiment on choosing IP law firms, the likelihood of instructing new firms soon, and their top three IP concerns. We presented 12 factors and asked how essential they were when choosing law firms (we had four answer options including 'strongly agree' and 'strongly disagree'). The question about changing law firms had five answer options, from 'likely' to 'very unlikely'. See the infographics below. These two questions received 962 responses.
Nearly all the respondents were employees, including general legal counsel and IP practitioners, representing a diverse range of companies in different industries. Many of the companies are medium-sized and large enterprises. The respondents were spread across 55 jurisdictions, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
We asked how essential diversity and inclusion (D&I) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are in the selection process. Nearly 80% agreed (25% strongly agreed) that both issues are essential, while the rest disagreed (2% and 4% strongly disagree on CSR and D&I respectively).
We have observed that company executives and in-house counsel are increasingly vocal about these issues, and some companies (for example, Novartis and Intel) now ask law firms about their D&I credentials. Many law firms are now proactive about CSR and D&I.
Clients, especially multinational corporations, want the strongest legal team to represent them in different jurisdictions. It did not come as a surprise that 95% of the respondents agreed that the depth of a firm’s IP team is essential, while around 90% value a firm with an international network or cross-border capability.
On the other hand, 12% did not agree that having an international network is important. This response is also not unusual when one considers that IP is territorial in nature and a small IP owner can decide to protect and/or enforce its rights in only one jurisdiction. Furthermore, a multinational IP owner can find a relatively small law firm which is based in one jurisdiction to coordinate or advise on its IP work in other jurisdictions.
Client management, fees and billing are all essential to the decision-making process of nearly all respondents. Fees would, of course, depend on the type of work, client, and firm, but all clients expect transparent billing and a good working relationship.
The COVID-19 pandemic served as a wake-up call to firms that still lag far behind their competitors in technology. Technology can help reduce costs, increase efficiency, and ensure service continuity. According to 86% of respondents, it is essential for IP law firms to be innovative and use technology when delivering services. Overall, the data suggests that firms that are responsive, accessible, innovative, and conscious of legal costs would score well on client management.