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IP Challenges - UPC, competition and the changing role for Attorneys


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When gathering responses we posed this question to the profession: 


What are the main challenges for the IP profession over the next 12 months? 


The responses to this question has brought three clear themes to the fore.

IP Professionals are most concerned about the affect of reform and changes in 2015. The other two themes are clearly interlinked with a number of comments on the increased level of competition (from a variety of sources) in the industry and the changing nature of the role of IP teams.

Reform and changes

The Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is seen as a concern for the industry although ratification seems to have been delayed to at least 2016. Advising clients over the potential introduction of the scheme is something that needs to be considered. A worry amongst some professionals was whether UK Patent Attorneys would be completely acknowledged by the UPC, and whether there would need to be additional qualifications taken in order to represent clients in these proceedings. Further confusing this picture is the UK Government’s commitment to an EU referendum by 2017, which could have ramifications.

Increased competition

IP spending is often seen as a luxury and is reduced in a period of economic instability. With the UK economy performing favourably compared to many of their EU counterparts there seems to have been an increase in the amount of IP-related expenditure.

The results comment on an increased amount of IP work which has seemingly incentivised law firms, solicitors and non-IP specialists to take on patent and trademark work. Similarly, there have been several comments on the number of smaller IP firms starting up which only adds to the increased level of competition over the next 12 months.

Changing nature of the role

The increased level of competition is a positive challenge for the IP industry as it should create an environment of excellence - where high standards, reputation and exceptional quality of work rule. It is clear from a number of responses that this competition is changing the nature of the role for attorneys and administrators.

There is an increased focus being placed on business development and marketing to attract clients seeking IP work. Unless you have a dedicated team for business development and marketing the emphasis of attracting new clients is falling on the shoulders of partners and associates, taking them away from the technical nature of their role.

The next 12 months will be an interesting period for IP firms as they seek to attract clients while performing high quality work. To succeed they will have to find the right balance between technical work and business development.


What do you think are the main challenges facing the IP industry over the next 12 months? Which one of the above poses the biggest test?


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