Choosing an IP management system is a huge decision for any organisation.
It can be a big investment, and it can be difficult to know whether the chosen software will fulfil all your requirements. Entrusting sensitive data to an external organisation and ensuring this is done securely is paramount.
So, how do you know which IP management system is right for you? Sam Nicholson, Managing Director of Equinox and IP management tech expert, looks at the key things to consider.
Getting started and seeking support
It can be daunting to adopt a new system. Your organisation has spent years refining its processes into a well-oiled machine, and introducing new software risks new complexity and issues. The best software providers will guide you through the onboarding process with minimum hassle and choosing a supplier that makes adoption as simple as possible will go a long way when you’re getting started.
An IP management system (IPMS) supplier should be responsive to your needs and take care to cater to your firm’s specific requirements. When you meet with the provider, consider how well they’ve accounted for your needs and the extent to which they can tailor the system to fit your processes. The best suppliers will explain how their software can adapt to how you already operate and more importantly how it can enhance your practices. Don’t settle for a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
When the time comes to onboard your firm onto your chosen system, the software provider should make the process as clear and easy to follow as possible. This includes training; you should expect comprehensive instruction on the system before you go live so that you and your team feel confident in how to get the most from the software from day one.
The friendly Onboarding team at Equinox supports new subscribers through the whole process from their first demo of the system through to data migrations and training, and the support doesn’t stop there. New users can also contact our Help Desk for fast, approachable support whenever they need it.
“An IPMS supplier should be responsive to your needs and take care to cater to your firm’s specific requirements.”
Well maintained system
Some software companies go years without releasing an update, leaving their users with a system that is slow and vulnerable. Updates iron out bugs and keep your software running smoothly. Without them, you will have issues.
When exploring the range of IPMS solutions on the market, ask how often their service is updated and determine the quality of their development teams. A good development team will get users on the latest version of their software as promptly as possible and clearly communicate how these changes will benefit their organisations.
The Equinox Development team releases a small update around every two weeks, so you can be confident you’re always on the latest version of the system. These updates deliver new functionality, fixes for bugs, and key security updates.
Well updated software is more secure and works better, so don’t settle for less!
Security is a priority. When your organisation stores any data within an IPMS, it should feel 100% confident that everything in that system is protected. Whether that data is stored with the software provider or on your organisation’s own server, it should be safe with maximum visibility for the user.
Any good IP management system will have a thorough data security framework in place. Consider how the provider will store your data and assess the level of support specifically driven towards data management and security. Availability is incredibly important, so ask about uptime too. You don’t want to find that you can’t access your data at a sensitive moment.
At Equinox, we have a dedicated Data Services team that takes responsibility for the transfer and management of subscriber data and a meticulous Operations team that ensures the best software security measures are in place. Having teams with specific expertise allows the appropriate level of attention towards ensuring your system and data is kept secure and available when you need it.
If you find yourself needing help using the system or troubleshooting an issue you’re having, your team needs to be confident that it can get effective, prompt support. IP management is time-sensitive and requires quick action, so if there’s an issue at an inopportune moment, its users should be confident that it can be resolved quickly to keep their portfolio on track.
Take care to consider the quality of an IPMS provider’s support team. Is support available when you might need it? How quickly can they respond to your queries? The strongest software companies have a dedicated help desk that can respond to you and help with your issue as fast as possible.
Our Help Desk team is filled with experts in all things Equinox. They’ll handle your issue quickly and work with our wider team to get your problems sorted as soon as they can. Plus, we offer a multi-media Help Centre with a huge catalogue of documents and videos you can access independently, allowing you to configure your system yourself and learn at your own pace.
Strong development that grows with you
Responsive intellectual property law updates
The global intellectual property landscape is ever-changing, and an IPMS needs to keep on top of these developments to ensure it can support its subscribers and their clients through legislative updates.
An IP management system relies on pre-set processes, which are sometimes known as law files. These are pre-prepared workflows for a jurisdiction that align with your processes. They help you through the IP management process by prompting you when a task needs attention.
These pre-set processes must be regularly reviewed and updated in line with legislative developments to ensure that cases are handled properly within the system.
A stronger IPMS supplier will monitor legislative developments and issue updates to users as soon as possible. This demonstrates that their system is being maintained regularly and offers users a vital global law resource.
Equinox operates a devoted IP Services team that keeps its finger on the pulse of international intellectual property law. When a country changes its rules, our subscribers are notified through regular newsletters. They can also have their pre-set processes updated when they come into effect to keep their cases in line with the law. This takes a small job away from your team so they can focus on managing your IP portfolio.
A forward-thinking development team will anticipate its users’ needs ahead of time. When new laws or practices come into action, your software provider should have anticipated this change and pre-emptively updated the system to account for it and avoid delays.
When the Unitary Patent system came into effect in 2023, Equinox already had functionality in place to allow users to manage their cases, with built-in functionality for opt-outs.
When choosing your IPMS, consider how the provider reacts to changes in the industry. Will the provider anticipate your needs? Look for strong development experience and an innovative approach to ensure confidence in the longevity of your software.
When your portfolio expands or you get new team members, your IPMS should scale with you. Some software providers limit the number of users or clients a subscriber can maintain on the system, making it difficult when the business grows. As a result, organisations should take care to choose a supplier that scales with rather than against their growth; an IPMS should be willing and capable to help a firm grow.
“We feel vindicated in our choice of Equinox as a modular IPMS that allows us to grow in complexity and sophistication as our firm has rapidly grown. Using Equinox allows us to set in place workflows that are ready for scale, while being operable at the smaller scale our firm started at.”
—David Müller-Wiesner, trademark attorney, patent attorney, and shareholder at GLMR
Equinox is designed to be scalable: when your firm grows, our IPMS not only keeps up with you but actually helps you continue that growth. Many of our subscribers have seen a seamless transition as they take on new employees and win new clients.
Adaptability and accessibility
Strong configuration options
You’ve spent years perfecting your IP management processes, and your software should work around your needs. Better yet, it should enhance your abilities and maximise your impact.
One IP professional will operate differently from the next, with variations as granular as the terminology used in their processes and as broad as how they communicate with clients or leadership. Your organisation is unlike any other, so why settle for a universal approach?
When adopting an IPMS, choose one that fits into and enhances your existing processes rather than forcing your team to adapt.
Equinox is designed to enhance the processes you already use. When new subscribers come to Equinox, we take time to consider how they already operate and explore how we can configure the system to enhance their processes. This is done by helping select and upload pre-set processes from our extensive catalogue and can extend to details as small as changing the terminology used in the system interface. Your IPMS should make as many changes as possible to fit in with and enhance your practices.
Integrating with other services
IP professionals often rely on a range of services to do their job. Be it word processors or financial services that track payments, an IP management system should integrate seamlessly to make handling a case as simple as possible. Increasingly, software across a range of industries is adapting to a more integrated approach that allows software services to work together, and your IPMS should be no different.
Equinox is packed with integrations.
Our Microsoft Office plugin allows you to create, edit, and save templates and original documents into your system, with everything saved with the case it corresponds to. We also have handy email integrations that allow you to create template emails and automate notifications with ease. You can also integrate your Equinox system with popular financial and accounting services. Use Xero, Sage, and Billtrader to manage finances directly from your Equinox system. As part of Questel, Equinox also works seamlessly with a vast range of IP management-specific services.
Accessibility and availability
An IPMS should be easy to use and available from anywhere. A cloud-based and browser accessible system is the best option as it can be accessed from a variety of devices and does not require a time-consuming software download. This helps your team access the system more quickly and stay responsive when needed. It’s much simpler for home working too, as you don’t need to worry about remote desktops.
The interface of the software should be easy to understand and clear to follow. A modern, clear, crisp design for your software may not seem like a major priority compared to other factors, but when you and your colleagues will be using the IPMS daily, ensuring the software is simple to operate is a must.
“Choose a provider that gives you confidence in its service from day one.”
Key things to remember when choosing an IPMS
It’s better to adopt an IP management system that can be configured and shaped to fit the way you work. Your organisation has spent years honing its practices, method, and approach to IP management. Your IPMS should enhance how you work and not force your team into a one-size-fits-all system.
When you grow, the IPMS you choose should grow with you. Consider the longevity of your time with the software; if you take on new staff or clients, you should be confident that the software you rely on is ready and willing to support and accelerate your success.
Your IPMS provider should have its finger on the pulse of the industry and anticipate your needs. You should be confident that your software is kept in line with every jurisdiction you operate in with regular updates to the system and its pre-set processes. With legal technology developing to be increasingly integrated, your IPMS needs to follow this trajectory and include as many integrations as possible with other services you use.
Overall, the best way to choose an IPMS is to consider the quality of your experience with the software from your first exposure to the system right through to when you need support. Choose a provider that gives you confidence in its service from day one.
Want to take a closer look at Equinox?
Our Onboarding team is ready to show you how our intuitive system could work for your organisation.