The results of IP Trend Monitor's 2019 edition are in, and they reflect the belief that artificial intelligence (AI) will cause significant changes to our work within the next five years. Respondents also share the opinion that AI will dramatically improve the efficiency of Intellectual Property (IP) services in the future. Still, information on this topic is scarcely available and this year's study will help close that gap by answering some of the industry's most burning questions.
IP Trend Monitor is an annual survey established by the Dennemeyer Group, together with CTC Legal Media, to investigate current topics in IP management. There are more than 400 members of the IP Trend Monitor panel, representing the full range of IP practitioners – lawyers, attorneys, consultants, IP counsel, inventors and scientists – from all areas of the industry – large corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises, law firms, IP service providers and IP offices.
For the 2019 edition, over 100 participants responded to our questions and of these, roughly one-quarter were from large corporations, one-quarter from law firms, 20% from patent / trademark firms, 15% from IP service providers, 10% from SMEs and 3% from IP offices. Participants were also asked which geographical area(s) they are responsible for. Their answers suggest that participants remain focused on the key developed markets, with China also important, but other emerging markets are yet to make an impact. Most of this year's survey focused on questions around the impact of AI on IP, which is identified as the single biggest issue facing practitioners in this area. However, the survey also revealed insights into trends in work and growing markets.
Key findings in the IP Trend Monitor report
AI is expected to cause significant changes to our work within the next five years, but what those changes will be and how we can best prepare for them is highly uncertain, according to participants in this year's IP Trend Monitor report. Remarkably, more than two-thirds of participants say they have heard about AI and would like to learn more, while just one in five say they already use AI in their daily work. Respondents who identified themselves as management level were both more likely than legal experts to say they use AI daily (28% compared to 15%) and less likely to claim they know all about AI (6% compared to 15%), while patent specialists were slightly more likely than trademark specialists to use AI in their daily work (24% versus 19%).
As participants in this year’s IP Trend Monitor survey, there is considerable scope for AI tools to improve efficiency, accountability and transparency in areas such as IP portfolio management, trademark clearance / searching and annuities payments. Yet there also remains much uncertainty and even concern about how AI will affect IP work.
Among the other interesting findings in the report are:
- IP work can be divided into three categories, according to whether it is very likely, somewhat likely or unlikely to be affected by automation and AI.
- 83% of participants say that "Automation and AI will improve the efficiency of IP services." Among representatives of companies rather than law firms, that proportion is 89%.
- Jobs are safe: just 43% of participants say "AI and automation will replace some jobs in IP," and just 31% say "Automation and AI will improve the quality of IP services." Only 5% say "AI and automation will have a negative impact on IP services."
- Asked whether there is currently enough useful information available about the impact of AI on IP, the majority of participants (52%) say they are not sure.
Participants in this year's research were also asked to comment on trends in IP work and their budget expectations for the next five years. On the former point, the vast majority (71%) say that work has increased in the past year, while just 7% say it had decreased and 22% say it has remained the same.
Respondents struck a positive note when it came to expenditure, with 63% expecting spending on budgets for IP matters to increase over the next five years, 26% expecting it to remain the same and just 11% anticipating a decrease. This represents a slightly more bullish view compared to the 2018 edition of the report, where respondents were asked about expenditure "during the next 12 months" and just 52% expected an increase, while 9% expected a slight decrease or a decrease and 32% said that it would "remain the same."
Get ready now
The question is: how do we prepare for this radically different future? Asked to identify what they find most useful when reading about AI, participants expressed a preference for practical, focused information. One says "concrete applications and impact measures; working tools that fulfill the promises given," while another says "how to implement it / use cases," and another provided more detail: "tools, trends, players in the field and offers in the market, litigation-related, contracts, types of licensing, use of big data for training AI in IP." Several participants also highlight the challenge of combining AI tools with traditional legal skills. For example, one commented: "Balancing rote tasks that might be readily automated with novel issues that require human consideration," and another said they wanted information on "tailored solutions for IPR management."