Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The 2014 Anaqua User Conference

Open, sharing, collaborative – these words best describe the atmosphere at the 9th Annual Anaqua User Conference (AUC) that took place in Boston last week. This three day event brought in a record number of Anaqua Clients from all over the world, and was a testament to a cornerstone of what makes Anaqua the strongest IP solution provider – our amazing client community.

The Executive Council meets during the AUC - a group of senior IP executives from Anaqua’s clients who provide strategic input to Anaqua and governance for the broader Anaqua community. This group lay the ground for the culture of best-practice sharing and strategic collaboration. Key discussion topics included proactive innovation management, communicating with the business, patent analytics and evolving docketing models.

After a welcome address from Priya Iyer, Anaqua’s CEO, the main conference kicked-off with a keynote presentation by Dr. Udo Meyer, the Head of Global IP at BASF on “The world of IP: A BASF perspective”.  Udo shared an overview of BASF’s impressive IP management process, portfolio and team. He outlined key IP initiatives, especially those most impacted by ANAQUA. The keynote was followed by a series of client-led sessions on best practices in areas such as reporting, portfolio management, annuity decision management, docketing best-practices and strengthening the partnership with your outside counsel. Novo Nordisk led a particularly interesting session on building an ROI analysis to track the cost reductions and efficiency gains experienced after implementing ANAQUA (Stay posted for a Case Study!).

The final day was opened by Dave Gooder, Managing Director and Chief Trademark Counsel of Jack Daniels, who presented how Jack Daniel’s weaves together trademark protection, brand protection and licensing all from the start of the product innovation life cycle to help keep the brand healthy and growing after so many years. The conference wrapped with a number of ANAQUA product sessions including case studies, deep dives and a review of recent product releases and the future roadmap.

Every session, every lunch, every dinner and every cocktail hour was filled by innovative IP professionals learning and sharing. During the event we had clients doing short testimonial videos, and there was not a single one that didn’t mention how much value they got from being part of the Anaqua community – we continue to have the most forward-thinking companies and IP professionals embrace and contribute to Anaqua and each other’s success.

To read more about our client community visit http://anaqua.com/community/clients.html

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Patent Docketing for law firms – Reduce Risk by embracing technology

We recently hosted a webinar featuring Anthony Greene, a certified Risk Manager for Jamison Risk Services. The webinar focused on how to reduce risks for IP law firms through process improvements and technology. Anthony covered a lot of topics and shared some great advice, but there was one statistic that Anthony shared that was really alarming – 30% of the claims tracked by the American Bar Association Lawyers Professional Liability Study were due to administrative errors, and the average value of those IP liability claims paid by a firm was $322k! That is a hefty penalty for an administrative error!

There is a compelling opportunity to reduce administrative risks by leveraging the right technology. Anaqua’s IP practice management software helps to reduce administrative risks in many ways:

·       Automation: By implementing Anaqua there is a reduction in the manual entry of deadlines, and  Anaqua has built-in escalations of any overlooked tasks when a critical date is approaching
·      Centralized Data: This applies in so many ways – Anaqua has documents and emails integrated with the relevant matters, it gives you visibility into the entire patent family, art is accessible and searchable so your firm avoids missing any known art, and there are connections between patents, trademarks and related litigation.
·       Standardization: Anaqua can help your firm to standardize policies, defining and maintaining a tested and reliable workflow for frequent tasks, while staying flexible for client-specific workflow requests and attorney preferences. Documentation of standard firm docketing rules can be critical in litigation or efforts to reinstate patent rights
·      Old Law is Bad Law: Anaqua’s automated quarterly law updates keeps you current with global country laws

There are many more ways Anaqua can help to reduce risks including improving your process around due diligence, new client or attorney intake, conflict checks and more, but the immediate value can be seen by avoiding and reducing administrative error.

Don’t wait till it’s too late – contact us to learn more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Patent Protection - Grow Your Patent Portfolio Without Growing Costs

For an IP professional or manager it is always a difficult challenge to encourage innovation and patent protection strategies while staying within a staffing and operations budget that may not increase at that same rate as that innovation.

We recently published a case study featuring Oil States International, an oilfield services company that managed a small number of patents. When they approached us they had a real challenge – they were asked to take over global IP filings, growing their managed portfolio from 100 patents to 500 patents without increasing staffing or operational costs. They had previously managed a part of the portfolio, and the larger global portfolio was managed primarily through outside counsel. Bringing this portfolio in-house with a centralized system was a priority.

Oil States’ IP team is a small and agile department driven by a main administrator, Sherry Horton, who is responsible for managing the global portfolio. Sherry had been managing patents for the company since 1994 and had been using an intricate spreadsheet for managing the small portfolio. She knew that the global portfolio would require more than a spreadsheet.

After a thorough systems evaluation, Oil States selected and implemented ANAQUA Element. The system met all their criteria so they immediately went into training and were up and rolling in a couple of months, managing a much larger portfolio with the same staff.

In addition to the efficiency gains, The ANAQUA system dramatically increased the visibility they had into their portfolio, highlighting gaps in coverage, upcoming annuities costs and more. It has enabled them to do things they had not expected, like improve the response time of their outside counsel and stay ahead of any docketing or annuities decisions, all made possible through web-based collaboration. They have also become a completely paperless office using the document and email management functions within Anaqua.

And perhaps best of all, Oil States was able to fund the purchase of the ANAQUA system just by leveraging the cost savings they experienced by switching to ANAQUA Services for patent annuities. They get all the added benefits without increasing their budget or team.

Contact us to learn how Anaqua can help you increase patent filings without increasing budgets or staffing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Patent Annuities – Is there a better way to manage them?

There are many challenges around handling patent annuities payments, both for corporate IP teams and for IP law firms.

For corporate IP owners, processing patent annuities in-house means managing an international network of agents and that comes with risks. Managing through outside counsel is expensive. Using an annuity service provider is the default option  but some give little visibility into cost structures. It is hard to track the frequent adjustments and fees are often hidden or higher than anticipated, making budgeting difficult.

Anaqua’s annuity and renewal services provide transparent pricing and a process that avoids post-payment adjustments so you can clearly see costs by matter and country. ANAQUA Services are integrated with the ANAQUA IAM solution for fast and easy export of renewal instructions and automated import of payment data, with integrated reporting by patent, family or portfolio.
On the law firm side, firms are under pressure from their insurers to exit this low-margin, high-risk business and are pushing many of their clients to annuity service providers. But many clients are poorly equipped to adapt to this change, resulting in considerable resistance. Inventors with small portfolios are likely to hold out the longest. These smaller clients require more hand holding in the early phases of the transition, and can be vulnerable to annuities providers who overcharge.

Firms and corporate teams who wish to exit annuities management cleanly without alienating their clients or being exposed to predatory practices need a strategic approach. The strategy needs to start with selecting a trusted partner who is transparent, flexible, and fully committed to a carefully arranged transition project. There are best practices for transitioning the portfolio, maintaining awareness of the data feed, and communicating intentions to clients and staff.

Anaqua has a structured and tested annuities transition approach. Our annuity services present an efficient yet flexible process for client communications, invoicing, payments and reporting. The standard procedures can be tailored to client needs in a paperless environment. Clients have secure online access to their portfolio data, including full lifecycle payments and invoices.

Annuity Management doesn’t need to be so difficult. We can make your life easier, reduce risks and likely save you lots of money. Contact info@anaqua.com to start a free cost savings analysis of your portfolio.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Deciding on New IP Infrastructure – Harder than it Looks

As the level of frustration rises to a tipping point, the IP team cries out that it’s time to replace the old docketing system. Outside the IP team, there are unresolved concerns about IP in the business: lack of visibility into IP activity, questions about rising costs, challenges tying IP to the business. But if IP leadership accepts and even embraces the call for change, what then should be done?

This is even harder than it looks, so here’s a checklist to consider about your new IAM project:
  1. This is a strategic decision. Corporate IP teams change their core software every 6-10 years on average (law firm systems last even longer), so it is reasonable to assume that you will live with your new system for 10 years. This is no time to think of a quick fix or a good-enough solution.
  2. Think vendor selection, not product selection. The IP team must have liked the old system at first. What do they think now? Your current software was likely designed in an era when no-one took their PC home each night and when most of your electronic traffic was by fax. How much has the system changed since? Software doesn’t grow on its own and mature with age – it has to be developed and enhanced. Think about the vendor, their focus on software R&D, their track record of delivering new functionality, their ability for their clients to adopt new versions and increased benefits.
  3. This is an opportunity for significant change, though not necessarily all at once.  Your current procedures have been built around the limitations of your 10 year old system. Don’t even listen to those who want to minimize the impact on your existing IP processes! Take the time to re-think what you do and how you do it, just not everything at once. (We’ll look at ways you can phase in changes in a future blog piece). Find people who can embrace this change and give them a key voice in the project.
  4. Who else will be impacted by this change? Everybody involved in the IP process – inventors, marketing, business leaders, outside counsel and the whole IP team. But you get to choose how and when – again, you can phase in these changes over time. 
  5. This will save money! Yes it will involve new costs for software and implementation services, but it is not hard to lay out a multi-year ROI with IP operational cost savings, reduced business unit portfolio costs and positive impacts on the company’s core business.  Anaqua has tools to help assess the opportunities for cost-savings and business impact and a quite rigorous planning process for managing change. We also have clients who can share their experiences and lessons learned.

To be continued...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The changing world for IP Firms and Outside Counsel Relationships

For 9 years now we’ve had law firms using the ANAQUA IAM System and in that time their world has changed, especially in recent years. Corporations are demanding different service models from their law firms.  Just last week we hosted an IAM Leadership Webinar featuring one of our clients, Ingersoll Rand. In that webinar Bruce Schelkopf, Vice President and Chief IP Counsel, described how Ingersoll Rand now expects a different relationship with their outside counsel. They want collaborative partnerships and demand technological perspective, knowledgeable and data driven advice and faster services.
So how can IP Firms stay competitive and deliver the service that companies like Ingersoll Rand have come to expect? The key is to switch thinking from hours = profitability to efficiency + high quality advice = profitability.
The old model of hourly billing is changing. You may ask “Why would a law firm want to enable efficiencies when it will reduce hourly billings?”  The reality is that leading firms are no longer thinking this way. Leading firms are getting premium dollars for the advice and counsel they are providing to their clients and clients are prepared to pay that premium for high quality advice in a timely fashion.   In the legal world, doing things quicker and delivering advice faster than your competitors is hugely important.
If the law firm wants to keep the same level of billings, one approach is to convert to a task-based fixed-price structure with the client.  For example, a fixed price of $X for drafting and filing a patent application.  This structure allows the firm to compete better in the market place because it reduces uncertainty for the client. The law firm can complete work faster and more efficiently with the many productivity enhancements that a system like Anaqua provides.  The fixed price structure helps them to increase both revenue and profits.  So in the end the leading firms that adopt technology make their clients happy and make more money.
Anaqua allows law firms to be more competitive, build stronger client relationships, increase quality, reduce risk, be more efficient and productive, reduce cost and increase profits. 
Our technology and the best practices we have developed have helped law firms transform themselves.  We are very excited to be at the forefront of this.  Don’t get lost in this changing world – contact us to learn how to keep up.