We sat down with our CEO Toni Nijm to discuss his views on the current trends in IP and technology, and also asked him about his outlook for the future of the industry.
Q: How do you see the IP industry moving forward?
TN: Well, definitely a lot of AI in that.
I see IP in three parts.
You've got the administrative part of it, which is how you file and renew and all these things that you have to do, still involving a lot of paper and a lot of emails.
The second part is the creation of IP. So, in terms of the attorneys or the guys that are actually drafting applications and putting these things together that will heavily be impacted by AI.
And then the third and final piece is really focused on the analytics, seeing trends and understanding where innovation is going and trying to extract relevant information from that.
Q: What changes do you wish to see in the IP industry?
TN: First, and the most important thing, is not wasting money on things that are not value adding.
If you look at the size of the industry, it'’s an enormous amount of money and time spent on things like literally shuffling paper, sending emails and entering data and the likes. If you manage to solve that problem, then that money will be freed to more R&D and more IP will be created.
Second is to make IP a bit more accessible to the normal person. And that'’s where I also see AI playing a big, big role. A lot of small businesses I’ve talked to just don't even want to go to an attorney. They think they don't understand what they're talking about, it’s too expensive, etc. I think the cost is going to come down quite a lot for the drafting of applications and the filings.
Q: Do you see any challenges in the professional part of the IP industry in moving towards these changes?
TN: If you think about the law firm side, a lot of their clients want to pay less and less for the administrative work. This means margins are going to come down, which means a lot of people are going to be laid off and we’ve already seen this with a lot of firms. Like taxi companies in the past, I think we're going to start seeing a lot of ‘uberising’, in terms of Senior people leaving, finding easy technology to jump on board, and they take some customers with them.
Mainly out of frustration, I think we're going to see some big firms being created, but also existing firms that are more proactive, creating different models to allow for these people to stay within the firm in a different way. So that's going to be really, really exciting to follow.
Q: In my experience, lawyers are very traditional people. But from what you say here, the challenges will be the pressure that comes from their clients, do you think the industry will have to be more open?
TN: I definitely do. We see the younger generation coming up now, which is digitally native, I would say they, even before taking a job, they are looking at “how does this firm use technology”.
There are a lot of law firms that are pushing to move more and more in that direction. I don't think there is a lot of convincing needed.
Q: How do you see the future of IP management?
TN: When I started my first IP management software company in 2004-2005, of course, there was no cloud, it was an access database or a simple database. You put in your records, and you get your reminders and basically that's it.
I think that IP management needs to be redefined. I think we're going to see internal IP management with automation of workflows, and on the corporate side it’s going to be a lot more focused on invention, idea creation and extraction.
Q: You've touched a bit upon this as well, but can you elaborate a little more about how you see the future of data sharing in the IP industry?
TN: If you think about the finance space, the EU forced the banks to open up their systems, which created a huge number of multibillion dollar fintech companies. That makes the life of people consuming finance a lot easier.
I would have hoped that the IPO's would do something like this.
One of the big missions we are going after is to make sure that communicating, creating and enforcing IP across the globe is as simple as anything else you do on a daily basis, which requires a lot of work to hide the complexity in the infrastructure of all the requirements and all the things you have to do.
Q: How do you see the future of online payments in the IP industry?
TN: In most other industries this moved on to a different level. We are still sending invoices and paying a lot of FX (foreign exchange rates) on each one of those invoices which reduces the amount of money people and companies can invest in creating IP and then innovating.
And then the final invoice to a client is still quite high because of the additional cost across every step in the chain. So, we will definitely see a lot of those online payment solutions coming into play.
Q: Thank you. I just have one last question, which is probably something that you haven't been asked about before in interviews, but what is your guilty pleasure?
TN: Oh boy. In my private life it is definitely chocolate.
My problem is I get quite obsessive with a lot of things, I keep saying this to everyone. When I start digging into something I just go kind of like all ends, whatever that is. That could be learning about something new or try, you know, building a company or whatever. It just becomes an obsession. But now, I mean, there's not a lot. I don't really have a lot of time honestly for guilty pleasures. But yeah, I would say chocolate.
If you want to book a meeting with Toni to talk about our services, you can do so here.