They say it takes a village to raise a child and that may well be true, but it takes a world to protect a trademark. From a consumer perspective, we talk a lot about protecting the supply chain of goods and services and how that is essential to the creation and supply of the products that you buy in store. Undoubtedly, this is critically important and failure to do so would have fast and visible consequences on the shelves of the stores we visit.
Each part of that supply chain has its own vulnerabilities – from the businesses producing raw materials, shipment and delivery of those materials, the making of the actual products, packaging and safe storage of the products, delivery to warehouses and then on to stores or directly to end-customers.
In early-stage businesses, there are hot discussions on the topic of ‘single points of failure’. These are the weaknesses in essential components of that supply chain that make that stage particularly vulnerable to failure. For example, sourcing your raw materials for your products from more than one supplier decreases the risk of a single supplier experiencing a debilitating issue which results in you not receiving the contracted materials.
What is perhaps less well understood, is that the management of intellectual property (IP) rights has a supply chain too in any of the processes that that apply to a particular activity. An IP right (such as a trademark) will go through many hands to safely reach registration or renewal for example. If it is a trademark that is registered across multiple regions, the number of hands increases with every region. In order for the process to go smoothly and achieve the desired result, each player must play their part perfectly.
Practice of the law in any field tends towards archaic language, burdensome workloads and drawn-out processes but in the practice of intellectual property law, the manual processes developed in-house by lawyers to ensure the security of your IP management is nothing short of spectacular.
It is a testament to the absolute professionalism of the lawyers and IP agents at every step of the way that so few errors creep in and the vast majority of IP management activities are completed in a flawlessly efficient manner.
But all of that comes at a price – for the IP owner, the lawyers and the IP agents.
From the perspective of the lawyers and IP agents, this is an unscalable business model riddled with time consuming, manual tasks and opportunities to miss vital details or time-sensitive actions at every step. Communications and instructions from clients can be slow and prone to something ending up in a spam box that should not!
This system doesn’t ultimately benefit the corporate client either. Heavily manual and time-consuming tasks eat up limited budgets and where the essential activities are taking place in systems where the client doesn’t have access, it makes it that much harder for the corporate client to understand their portfolio and the value of the strategies that the lawyers advise. It can be like having a doctor constantly diagnose diseases that you never experience symptoms of. Which in turn means that client education becomes a burden that also falls on the shoulders of the lawyers.
For any system with stages and dependencies on each other to work to maximum efficiency, or at all, there has to be a central point of co-ordination and communication for all of the stakeholders. You wouldn’t try to run a company in such a disjointed and fractured fashion. With few realistic alternatives however, professionals have nonetheless made it work.
But they shouldn't have to. This core issue was the inspiration behind Rightly’s end-to-end IP management platform – a collaborative and shared space where all the stakeholders could come together to manage the IP supply chain flawlessly, effortlessly, and simply. To test the platform for yourself, you can request a trial here.