The advent of specialist service providers such as IP Centrum, which specialises in single-instruct European patent validation, renewals and IP translations, has unsettled the industry. Many originally saw this disruptive influence as a commoditisation of services previously the domain of more experienced, qualified professionals. They’re right and it’s actually OK. Called “industry layering”, it’s a phenomenon found in any successful service industry throughout time.
Centuries ago, if you wanted a boat, you’d go and see your local boat builder. He was skilled, highly experienced and knew everything about boat building. Once instructed, he would go to the forest, select the correct trees, chop them down, slice them up, smelt the metal for the oarlocks and gradually craft you a spectacular boat.
Eventually, the reputation of the greatest boat builders grew and their order books filled, leaving one of two options: tell customers they’re on a long waiting list or charge more for boat building. Ultimately, both of these happen until a disruptive technology comes along.
Scale and service levels are re-established by one or two forward-thinking boat builders asking a specialist wood company to chop and prepare the wood for them. Those specialist wood companies honed the skills and processes of wood handling to a fine art, and because they would then be able to service many boat builders at the same time, they could scale their operation to achieve far greater efficiency, therefore reducing prices and still making a profit. But they can’t build you a boat.
The laws of natural selection dictate that those who embrace this will prosper
This causes an industry “layer” to appear. This layer cannot be uninvented. It becomes absolutely clear that the future of boat building will, from that point onwards, depend on this much cheaper, much more efficient way of handling wood. This can seem scary to the boat building industry as they watch it unfolding but, if embraced, this frees them up to charge more per hour because they are now only spending time on the skilful, clever stuff. They can service more customers, with a greater level of service and attention, in a shorter timeframe, and earn more profit overall for the same investment.
No one is immune to this; not even the wood-handler. The layering process continues, when eventually, the wood-handling companies get too busy, and so they investigate whether there are specialist forestry companies who can harvest and deliver the raw wood to them, allowing them to focus on the value they create by preparing and distributing it. And so it continues.
Traditionally, years ago, your patent attorney would draft your patent, personally file all the documents, process fees, liaise with the patent office, pay renewals and organise translations. Clearly their years of training and qualifications were not required for much of this work. As firms grew, they employed paralegals and formalities professionals as the first layering process, but these people became too busy, and with further layering can provide great, additional value to their firms and clients.
IP Centrum can’t draft your patent for you or even advise which patents you should renew. But we’re outstanding at organising any necessary translations, paying renewals and handling your European patent validation formalities once decided, with great efficiency, speed, reliability and at a reduced cost.
We’re the best and most efficient wood-handling company in the world. We obsess over it. We can’t build you a boat nor advise you on the same. You need a boat builder for that. IP firms and patent attorneys have extraordinarily experienced and skilled wood experts – their IP formalities teams – in-house who deal with us regularly. They understand every detail of boat building and can even advise you far better than we can on exactly which type of wood to use for your specific requirements. They should charge you for this added value and it is likely to be money well spent.
We fiercely stick to what we can be the best in the world at
Of course, some very large organisations build their own boats in-house. They probably, therefore, source their wood from somewhere other than a boat builder. In these cases we can help and we do work with many very large organisations that do just that. But in most cases we advise potential clients to instruct their boat builder, to gain advantage of all their qualified advice.
The smartest firms will, of course, select IP Centrum to support their clients and will quite rightly add a small margin to cover the costs of those great decisions. Again, this is money well spent. No matter how great a wood-handling company is, you probably wouldn’t free-issue your wood to your boat builder.
For many operating within the industry, navigating the rapidly changing waters of the IP industry can seem uncomfortable. A dichotomous attribute of the industry is that while it is all about innovation and change, the inherent value and importance of diligence within the industry causes an understandably conservative discomfort towards change. But what we work hard to do is focus clearly on remembering which layer we’re good at and which layers are better served by others, and we urge all members of this incredible industry to do the same.
IP Centrum will never try to be an IP firm. We actively avoid blurring the edges of our services and so do not try to offer consultative advice or perform any kind of traditionally fee-earning services. We don’t think we can be the best in the world at that, so we fiercely stick to what we can be the best in the world at.
The layering will continue. There is no way to avoid it. The laws of natural selection dictate that those who embrace this will prosper; the end-client is the prime focus. Somewhere there is a boat builder who still collects and processes his own wood. I bet he makes one or two stunning boats a year and I’m sure I’d really enjoy spending a day with someone with that much passion. I just wish there was a way he could share that passion and his beautiful boats with so many more customers.
IP Centrum’s global market-leading service has reinvented IP formalities processes such as European patent validation. Reducing timescales from months to days, removing extensive administration and complication, reducing costs by about a third, and sporting an unprecedented zero-fail rate, having never failed a validation in its history. Building on this success, IP Centrum is entering the renewals market, with an industry-redefining new service, which they say will irreversibly transform the way renewals are handled, worldwide, forever.
For more information please visit www.ipcentrum.com