Being bold with your IP legal investment strategy during challenging times

With market uncertainty now the norm rather than the exception, IP legal teams regularly face multidimensional challenges. What if those challenges are opportunities for change?

Budgets and staffing are tight, competitive pressures are on the rise, and clients and business leaders are demanding more for less — without compromising quality. This creates an inflection point for rethinking how corporate and law firm intellectual property (IP) legal teams operate.

The value of investing in change during challenging times has been demonstrated historically. A 2020 report by McKinsey & Company found that organizations that invested in innovation during the financial crisis of 2009 outperformed the market by 10% during the crisis and by 30% in the post-crisis years.

Is this the right time for your team to make strategic investments in new ways of working? In the latest white paper from Clarivate, three IP legal experts examine how IP legal teams can drive positive change by considering the counterintuitive, investing during uncertainty to avoid playing defence later.


Now is the time to be bold

Against the backdrop of increasing demands and shrinking budgets, forward-looking IP legal teams are re-examining status quo approaches to managing IP assets.

“During a downturn and in this post-pandemic era, this is absolutely the time to be bold and invest in the future, strengthening our services to our internal and external clients,” says Tina Powers, Intellectual Property Operations Manager at Mintz.

The importance of IP is elevated during a downturn as companies seek to bolster their revenue and gain competitive advantage. David M. Weirich, Vice President & Associate General Counsel, Patents at The Procter & Gamble Company says: “It may seem counterintuitive, but a downturn is a good time to evaluate your systems and how work is done. Make changes that will help in the future, even if there is a cost now.”

Where should law firm and corporate IP leaders focus their attention and investment? The experts point to four key areas to encourage risk mitigation, agility, and morale: people, process, data and technology.

People: Investing in your teams

Knowledgeable people are a crucial resource. Making sure you are applying peoples’ skills in the most effective way is key to optimizing your investment in talent. “It’s all about having the right thing done by the right person at the right time… using their unique industry experience, talent and knowledge to serve clients,” says Robert K. Burger, Executive Director & COO at Sterne Kessler.

Third party experts like IP Services teams from Clarivate focus on utilizing specialists to decrease pressure on your internal teams, by reducing administrative burden and risk. It is important to note that the goal of these services is not to reduce in-house headcount. It is to enable and empower IP teams to focus on more strategic and value driving activities.

Process: Reduce pressure and improve output

An uncertain business environment is also a catalyst for IP departments and law firms to rethink their processes. It provides an opportunity to meet cost and staffing pressures while improving output.

“We had Clarivate take over the payment of trademark annuities, dealing with all of our agents around the world. This freed up our internal people to work on more interesting and important things. At the same time, our costs are reduced because we have the benefit of a larger organization negotiating rates” Weirich says.

He also notes the need to look at process transformation from a culture standpoint. “We got everyone thinking about simplification, encouraging them to bring ideas to the table.”

Data: Work smarter, not harder

IP management software (IPMS) and other systems are filled with data relating to IP portfolios. Optimizing and enhancing this data can help you prioritize focus and funds while enriching IP portfolios.

For example, combining portfolio data with Clarivate IP Intelligence solutions can provide clear insights to help IP legal teams:

  • Accelerate critical insights with AI-powered analytics solutions combined with correlated patent, trademark, litigation, non-patent literature and firmographic data.
  • Boost competitive advantage with IP intelligence you can use for a variety of high-value analyses – from evaluating IP value and risk to performing competitive intelligence.

Technology: Taking on tech

Technology plays a major role in transformation, with the experts emphasizing the importance of targeting the right opportunities for improvements.

Powers notes that connecting FoundationIP™ with the firm’s other software tools — such as linking docketing to billing software — yields significant improvements. “The investment we made in an IPMS, both in time and financially, has taken our technology to the next level.”

Increasing adoption and harnessing the full capabilities of existing technologies can optimize internal processes and enhance efficiency.


Transformation is the great unifier across IP legal teams, both law firms and corporates. It starts by carefully evaluating how your IP team is working today and identifying opportunities for new and better ways of working.

While we must always expect the unexpected, the experts agree that taking a proactive approach to transformation is a wise strategy, and we can help.

Interested in learning more? Download the report for a deep dive on this topic: Investing in innovative IP legal strategies during challenging times.

About our speakers

The IP legal experts sharing their approach to investing in innovative IP legal strategies during challenging times include: