To some, IP docketing software may seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. Team leads may think that software would be nice, but spreadsheets have worked fine so far, so why change? However, with so much of IP docketing dependent on maintaining strict filing deadlines, relying solely on ad hoc tools introduces unnecessary risk into company operations. Especially in a time where organizations are increasing filings and expanding their patent portfolios, manual efforts cannot scale enough to adequately cover this risk.
The USPTO and other patent offices are notoriously strict: patent filing requirements leave no room for missed filing deadlines, and these mistakes can lead to huge losses for a company. Unfortunately, docketing mistakes are fairly common; according to an American Bar Association study, nearly 25% of malpractice lawsuits result from failures to file documents or missing deadlines. With so much at stake for patent counsel and managers alike, a lack of IP docketing software poses a significant risk to their job effectiveness and organizational bottom line.
Benefits of IP Docketing Software
Professional IP software provides a number of benefits that are crucial to successful IP protection efforts: it allows for invention disclosures, automates manual patent docketing as well as annuities and maintenance. By creating automated deadlines and reminders for filings, docketing software serves as a trusted virtual assistant to make sure that patent managers and counsel do not miss crucial deadlines. This is especially necessary when dealing with multiple patent families in multiple countries; the more complex a patent family, the higher chance that filing deadlines can be missed based on complicated regulations. Furthermore, by allowing the digitization of filing procedures and document storage, teams can centralize their activities within a single system that allows for accountability throughout the entire patent management process.
While ad hoc tools like spreadsheets and charts can work for very small teams with a handful of patents, growing IP teams with expanding portfolios cannot depend on these tools as they do not scale with an increase in activity. Given that IP teams typically do not have much budgetary space to expand hiring, the only way to scale their processes is to rely on IP docketing tools that decrease the amount of human intervention needed effectively prosecute patents. Not only do manual systems increase the risk of patent loss and fees, they prevent effective analysis and optimization of the IP portfolio as a whole. With IP management moving towards a more comprehensive and involved role, automated IP docketing software becomes a critical part of the IP managers toolbox.