What’s ahead? 2024 predictions for the IP legal industry

Planning for the year ahead in the intellectual property (IP) space is increasingly challenging. While the unknowns of AI are top of mind, there are many variables in the IP legal industry projected to influence 2024. Practitioners can expect to see more integrations and toolsets that combine previously separate workflows; China will continue to influence the IP and innovation landscape; litigation is predicted to rise with the increase of infringing products; and new jurisdictions, such as the UPC, will result in new jurisprudence, decisions and shifts in the ways IP is protected internationally.

Establishing a strategic plan for 2024 requires IP leaders to place their bets on which of these trends will most likely impact patents and trademarks this year. To help, we asked senior leaders at Clarivate who have a broad perspective on the IP landscape to provide predictions for the IP legal industry in 2024 and beyond.

Question 1: What are your predictions for the IP legal space in 2024?

“The Chinese economy’s future hinges on innovation, prompting increased investment in R&D in strategic technology areas such as AI, wireless communication, and biopharmaceuticals. To bolster this effort, China is upgrading its IP legislations, infrastructure, and related processes to enhance IP protection and enforcement. This persistent trend will put pressure on foreign organizations to reassess their China strategy.”
Vashe Kanesarajah, VP, Corporate Strategy, IP

“Leveraging IP for corporate financing is causing a transformation in the financial and legal world. Companies using their IP assets as collateral are viewed as less risky investments and become more attractive to financial institutions that fund them, particularly in a complex economic climate.

“In 2024, we will see significant growth in IP-based financing, and the IP service providers and financial institutions supporting this practice will be expected to adapt to this trend. Accurate valuation of a company’s intellectual property assets is essential for securing IP-based financing. This reinforces the need for an effective valuation strategy, reliable IP data, and efficient processes to actively protect and accurately determine the value of an IP asset. This will be a game-changer.”
Annya Dushine, Senior Director, IP Consulting

“In terms of trademark activity, 2024 is likely to be in line with volumes that we have seen in 2023, with filing activity at most trademark registers growing moderately (3-5%) and renewal volume increasing by around 5%. China has been the only major trademark register to see a significant fall in filing volume over the past 12 months (down by around 10%) and this looks likely to continue in 2024. Anyone looking to set budgets for the next year should treat 2020-2022 as outliers and consider 2024 as closer to 2018 and 2019 than recent more unpredictable years.”
Robert Reading, Director, Corporate Strategy Content, IP

“Increasing datasets and new technologies will converge in new trademark solutions that connect brand lifecycle management steps more closely. Trademark practitioners can expect to see more integrations and toolsets that combine previously separate workflows.”
Francois Neuville, Senior Vice President, Product Management, IP

If you are also interested in a pulse check of AI in IP read the special report, Redefining AI: How IP practice meets the coming wave.

Question 2: What do you think will be the biggest area of focus for the IP legal profession in 2024?

“AI is endemic now in the world of IP. Its adoption isn’t a question of ‘if’ but ‘where and how’. I expect to see a surge in new AI-enhanced solutions for IP professionals as ideas are tested in 2024. Not all will survive, and it is important for legal professionals to focus on guiding this development to make it as helpful in the practice as possible. We are in an era of large-scale change-management, and this is one area to focus on.”
Francois Neuville, Senior Vice President, Product Management, IP

“Our customers (both corporate and law firm alike) are being challenged to ‘do more with less’. They are looking at methods for standardization and automation to reduce budget and increase efficiency allowing their stakeholders to focus on higher value tasks. Although not a new focus, this year will be a pivotal point for the IP industry amid the AI discussions while many are balancing market pressure with regulatory complexity.”
Reanna Myers, Vice President, Customer Success, IP

If you are interested in reading about doing ‘more with less’ read the blog post, IP Diagnostic consulting: The key to working smarter with less.

“Leveraging the advancements of technology while also maintaining the ultimate role and value of the legal professional.“
Irmina Stroud Senior Vice President, Global Sales, IP

“Last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a ban on non-compete agreements between employees and employers. A final vote will take place in April 2024 and given the clear trend of restricting or banning employee non-compete agreements, employers will need to prioritize protection of their confidential and trade secret information. It will reinforce that adequately protecting trade secrets and intellectual property requires a strategic approach that aligns business goals with employment agreements, IP protection, internal policies, as well as the need to have a clear plan of attack should trade secret or IP infringement occur.

This will also influence the start-up culture, entrepreneurship, and exchange of information among innovators, thus stimulating new ideas and technologies. Reducing the adverse consequences of a ban on non-competes will require finding the right balance between stringent IP protection and cultivating an open innovation culture. As a result, there will be a greater need for partnerships, industry standards, clear IP protection strategies, and effective policies and procedures to protect corporations.”
Annya Dushine, Senior Director, IP Consulting

“AI related commercial activity will have an impact on trademark filing volume, with applications at the USPTO that include ‘artificial intelligence’ now accounting for around 2% of applications filed each month and growing. A significant proportion of trademark applications are ‘self-filed’ without the assistance of an attorney; online AI based tools can give self-filers false confidence that they have been given reliable advice, leaving IP offices to deal with ‘hallucinations’ and invented ‘facts’ that are presented by inexperienced applicants during the registration process.”
Robert Reading, Director, Corporate Strategy Content, IP

Question 3: Aside from AI, what other trends or advancements do you see impacting the IP space in 2024?

“One, risk tolerances are shifting which impacts the IP ecosystem. Two, the speed of technology advancements continues to increase, year-over-year. This will increase the sense of urgency to realize commercial value from IP assets.”
Irmina Stroud Senior Vice President, Global Sales, IP

“With most key trademark registers now part of WIPO’s Madrid International registration system, there will be a continued shift away from filing nationally to filing via the Madrid system. Attorneys need to consider changing their focus – instead of concentrating on gaining ‘filing’ customers the growth opportunities will increasingly come from being the local problem solver – dealing with refusals and third-party actions as they arise. Attorneys who manage to change the focus of their practice may find they are moving away from filing to higher revenue/margin work.”
Robert Reading, Director, Corporate Strategy Content, IP

“New jurisdictions, such as the UPC, will result in new jurisprudence, decisions and a shift in the way IP is protected internationally. For IP professionals within the UPC, adapting strategies and approaches based on new precedent is going to be a challenge.”
Francois Neuville, Senior Vice President, Product Management, IP


While we will have to wait and see what 2024 brings for the IP legal industry, one thing remains true: “The only constant is change”. Contact us today, to learn how Clarivate can help your IP team plan for 2024 and into the future.