INTA reports project future of IP


The International Trademark Association (INTA) has framed the future of intellectual property (IP) through three new reports it released during the 2020 Annual Meeting and Leadership Meeting over two weeks from 9-20 November.

The reports are based on input from thinktanks composed of the current and former heads of IP offices, in-house IP practitioners and law firms from around the world.

“The IP field, like every industry, needs to step back and survey the current landscape in order to move forward,” said Etienne Sanz de Acedo, INTA’s CEO.

“When we began this initiative in early 2019, little did we know that the covid-19 pandemic would come about and accelerate us into the future, causing [intellectual property offices], in-house practitioners and law firms to pivot perhaps more quickly than anticipated. It has highlighted the vital importance of preparing for the future.”

The first report, titled “The intellectual property office of the future”, was compiled by an independent group of 14 current and former heads of IP offices from Australia, Canada, Chile, Europe, France, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Uganda and the US.

It found that in the next 10 to 20 years, IP offices will be required to change their practices and procedures to become more agile, effective, diverse and inclusive. Transparency in IP policy and systems will also need to be strengthened, and bad-faith filings kept at bay with appropriate legislation and practices. IP offices must also rely on new technologies to increase speed and efficiency, and must work together to develop solutions and tools that can be shared.

The second report, titled “In-house practice of the future – think tank report”, was compiled based on input from in-house practitioners. It examines the roles and responsibilities of in-house IP attorneys, the impact of technology on the practice, and core competencies for, and obstacles to, creating a brand legal team 10 years into the future.

“In the future state, trademarks will continue to be the key area of responsibility,” the report said. “However, the roles will evolve as the nature of the work continues to change and in-house teams take on additional responsibilities. Because of this, we will refer to in-house practitioners of the future as brand counsel or brand legal teams.”

The report noted that in-house teams are being asked to do more with less, and this trend is expected to continue. “The members of the brand legal team will continue to morph into true business advisers who are tasked with managing risk on an agile basis,” it said.

The third report, titled “IP law firms of the future – think tank report”, was compiled by a taskforce composed of leading INTA members and experts. It found that IP law firms are increasingly involved in matters beyond traditional trademark protection and enforcement issues.

The report pointed out the trends affecting the future of law firms, including a shift towards a business partner relationship, new technologies, and operational changes such as the blurring of separation between IP professionals and service providers. The report also examined, in contrast to the traditional law firm model, the extent to which clients are now in control of key decisions influencing legal hiring, project management and pricing structures, among other operations.

“Successful law firms of the future will have to distinguish themselves in new ways such as: On price, service models and speed; the use of technology and communications; innovation; and add-on services,” the report’s summary said.