Analyst Coverage: Philip Howard
What is now CPA Global was founded in 1969 and it has focused on providing software and services supporting patents and intellectual property (IP) ever since. Most recently, in 2017, it was acquired by private equity company Leonard Green and partners. The company has more than 2,000 employees and 24 offices spread across North America, Europe and Australasia.
CPA Global IP Platform
Last Updated: 12th September 2018
Over the years CPA Global has acquired multiple companies within its space and has historically offered a disparate set of products for corporates, inventors and law firms alike. Its portfolio of products covers all the elements illustrated in Figure 1.
In 2015, the company determined that it needed a single platform – the IP Platform – to support all of its users and offerings, as opposed to the various acquired products that it could then offer. Underpinning the IP Platform is what the company calls “IP One Data”. The idea here is each record is assigned a unique identity, which is used throughout the IP Platform environment, thereby allowing ongoing traceability and lineage. Given the international element in IP and patents, and the number of different elements involved, it should come as no surprise that CPA Global is researching the use of Blockchain to further support IP One Data. More prosaically, IP One Data gives you a single version of the truth when it comes to IP data, regardless of whether this is derived internally or from external sources. Moreover, this data is cleansed, verified and enriched using big data technology and proprietary (including machine learning) algorithms. Correlated data from more than a hundred different sources is available, include more than 18 million mined inventor profiles.
While the company’s various offerings (of which there are approaching twenty) will work with the IP Platform there are four specific applications built on top of the platform.
“When we went live, we really wanted people to use this tool and we were hoping to get two-thirds of the group to use it. But, we’re at 100% user adoption. This is the tool of record, this is what they all use, and they love it.” Microsoft
“Our time to filing for our patent applications has significantly improved. This is especially important as our world shifted from a ‘first-to-invent’ to ‘first-to-file’, so that means you need to file faster. Because our inventions were submitted through one tool, which of course didn’t speak to this tool unless we connected those dots, we really weren’t able to see where things were held up. Now we have cut our time to file by 50%. We’ve gone to an average of 44 days from an invention submission to file whereas before it was near 90 days. So that’s huge for us.” Microsoft
While the IP Platform and IP One Data provide a secure, trustworthy basis for IP management it is the applications built on top of that platform that do the work. There are four of these. Of which the first is File. This will connect you to a trusted set of global IP law firms and is designed to manage IP filings. It supports both national and international copyright and patents. Forecast is the second application and it tracks and predicts prosecutions, filings, fees, renewals and so forth via a graphical interface and dashboard (see Figure 2), using data provided by CPA Global’s network of more than 1,200 attorneys worldwide. Next, there is Renew, which provides process management and budgeting for renewal processes. The company manages approximately 1.7m trademark and patent renewals each year across 7m IP assets. These three applications are suitable for use by both corporates and law firms.
Finally, the fourth application, called IdeaScout, which is specifically targeted at those working in research and development and is targeted, not just at providing collaborative capabilities for inventors and R&D teams but also at enabling collaboration with the IP team. Features include workflow and disclosure capabilities as well as a pre-populated IP database from multiple third-party sources.
One additional capability, currently in beta, is worth mentioning. The company describes this as like LinkedIn for inventors. In other words, extending the collaborative capabilities in IdeaScout.
In most organisations the management of IP is manual and based on the use of Excel. Processes like checking for prior art are lengthy and expensive. It is difficult for R&D to collaborate outside their immediate environment. In particular, how do you know if what you are working on has been done by someone else somewhere? The necessary searches are not only costly in money terms but can be very, very, costly in time terms: if you have a new invention that you want to bring to market, you want to do so as soon as it is feasible, not have to wait while you search for prior art. And, of course, there the threat of litigation if you get it wrong is ever-present.
The whole trend in the market is for software providers to offer more and more self-service and ever more automation. CPA Global has clearly bought in to this message and we especially like the fact that the company has started to implement machine learning as a means of automating processes. We should also comment that, unlike many touted blockchain solutions, implementing blockchain to support IP One Data (if and when it happens) makes absolute sense.
The Bottom Line
The market for IP management is fragmented and has historically consisted of various point solutions. What CPA Global is building is a consistent platform to support all potential IP requirements, whether from enterprises or law firms. This has to be the right approach.