We sat down with Tobias Bohm, our director of services operations, to discuss the advantages of outsourcing IP management, such as increased flexibility and the introduction of diverse competencies. Alongside this, we sought his perspective on the current state of the industry and his personal experience with IP.
RH: How did you get into IP?
TB: By coincidence. Before my final term at the university, where I took Economics and Business administration, I had a few weeks without any courses, which is why I applied for a short-term job in accounting. It was supposed to be a software company - at least that's what the ad said - but the job was to take care of one of the foreign subsidiaries of an IP company. Then, I was asked to continue that work part-time when I was writing my master's thesis. When my thesis was finished, they offered me full-time employment as a business controller. I just went with the flow and here we are.
RH: It seems like a lot of people came into working with IP by coincidence.
TB: It's a nice industry with nice people. International, global, and exciting in many ways. Also, very stable, so I think that’s why people stay. That was what they said when I took that job I mentioned earlier: "You know once people start in IP, they stay.”
RH: What are the top challenges you see in IP management?
TB: I think one thing is for sure: there still are very few standardised formats for exchanging data. Of course, that makes it difficult to streamline things.
Then it’s the fact that most jurisdictions have different rules - but it's also something that makes it more challenging. I would also say that there's usually a vast number of touch points that need to be handled, in order to move the matter from A to B. I would say that these are probably the top three.
The fourth one is more general. It’s that ironically, and despite the fact that we work with very good innovation, our industry's very stubborn and not always up for quick changes and testing new things. Overall, I would say that that's also a challenge. We want to stick with the old routines that we've had for ages.
RH: How does the use of the RightHub platform support managed services?
TB: One thing is for sure: since we have skilled IP administrators and paralegals behind the scenes, we can assist IP owners and law firms with administrative tasks in an easy and cost-efficient way, as opposed to most other solutions and platforms out there, where you are on your own with your system. With most systems, you get the system and hopefully some help setting it up, but from then on, you're on your own.
Another thing is that there's also an ability to make use of common services directly from the platform instead of having to copy paste and create some kind of external workflow outside the portfolio management system. I would say those are the two main ways RightHub supports managed services.
RH: Which advantages do you see for companies buying managed services externally, as opposed to having in-house paralegals?
TB: I think the benefits are really those that you find in all types of outsourced services. You can easily grow; downsize and diversify when you outsource and when you buy services externally.
There's really nothing different between our industry and other industries. You can compare it with accounting services or payroll services or I.T. services where most companies outsource everything, or parts of it, in order to be more flexible. Another benefit is to bring in competencies that you might not have in-house, or at least those competencies that perhaps are not as fresh and updated all the time when you have in-house people.
If you bring in people from outside, they usually work with different types of companies and different types of IP and jurisdictions, then their knowledge is broader, than if you are in a company where you do seven jurisdictions, for example, repeatedly. Usually, people like us and other companies that are offering this have the knowledge around those. Then more specifically, benefits from outsourcing work would be reducing headcount, which is usually an important thing for companies depending on the state of the general business.
Furthermore, delivering effective assistance is a key benefit. When you outsource, you really get exactly what you want. And you should get exactly what you're asking for and paying for, so ultimately it is more effective. Regarding the consistency of work - if you outsource, you have people there all the time. In general, you don't outsource to one specific person, but instead, you have a team available, adding resources.
A final thing that I would say we noticed with our clients is that they very often tell us that working with us sort of really energises their own internal teams. Since they work with knowledgeable and professional staff that is brought in from the outside, that sort of makes their in-house team more energised and on their toes. And sometimes, maybe a team is small, but then suddenly they have two or maybe three more people to speak to. This doesn't mean that there are three more full time employees in the team, but they have two or three more people to get help from and cooperate with. I would say that it's not only about cost efficiency in particular or saving time or money. But still, it is super important to not forget this part of using outside resources.
RH: How do you see the demand for using external paralegals and IP professionals for managed services? Is it increasing or decreasing? What has the development been like?
TB: My definite feeling is that it is growing, and that the view within the industry is changing. Perhaps a little bit connected to what we discussed earlier, about this industry not always being in the forefront of embracing new ways of working. I'm not saying that that this slow pace of change is negative – it is what it is. But I think that it is definitely changing. Another reason is that there's a lack of resources and it is difficult to find skilled people. Therefore, you turn to a company that can offer that and that's fine - that's definitely one reason that has grown.
RH: In general, how do you see the future of IP management?
TB: This is a combination of what I believe, but also of what I hope.
There will be a lot more streamlined processes - automation and standardisation - because everyone in this ecosystem will demand it just like in any industry. People demand it because you have a lot more ability nowadays with systems and such, so of course we will see more streamlined processes, more automation and more standardisation. For a corporate or an IP owner, they will want to focus on things that actually create value, and they're happy to pay for it, but they don't want to pay for a lot of administration. Hopefully we'll see a lot more IP being created compared to today, but with less administration.
This will all take time. I remember when I started in the industry in the early 2000s at the company I mentioned, and we still had a telex machine standing in a closet since there was one or two foreign agents or PTOs that still used that as a means of communication. Someone had to check that machine every day and, as far as I understand, today there are still a few PTOs where you sometimes need to send a fax.
RH: The last question is, what is your guilty pleasure?
TB: Since I actually knew that you would ask that, I turned to my daughter for advice because I didn't come up with anything right away, and she's usually very frank and outspoken. She tried to come up with something, but basically concluded that actually I was pretty boring when it came to things like that. Perhaps watching a little too much sport from time to time and listening to really early and basic punk rock would count as my guilty pleasures.
Feel free to contact Tobias to talk about our services by clicking here.