Applying Supply Chain Principles to IP Prosecution
Over the last decade, the Supply Chain function within an organization has become increasingly integrated as a strategic partner inside the operations of the business, rather than a transactional procurement function. How can the strategies of large-scale Supply Chain Operations within organizations be applied to IP workflows within your organization?
If you opened a blog post titled “Applying Supply Chain Principles to IP Prosecution” and made it past that opening sentence, then you are likely one of the few individuals that this subject matter pertains to. Wishing you congratulations and empathy simultaneously.
Let’s take a look at 3 key principles:
- Buying in bulk
- Strong relationships with vendors
- Negotiate creatively
Buying in bulk
The concept is rather simple, yet extremely underutilized within legal services. Simply put, the more work you have to offer your service provider or outside counsel, the better rates you’re likely able to obtain. For instance, if your organization has 100 foreign filings a year, are you negotiating with Foreign Associates for the best pricing you can obtain given this fact? Too frequently, companies will simply allow their various Outside Counsels to direct their foreign filings to whichever FA they choose. This leaves your filing leverage fragmented, and the sticker shock that the foreign prosecution invoice shows will reflect that.
Another option is to utilize a service provider like SHIP Global IP who has the ability to combine the filing load of many clients in order to negotiate extremely competitive rates with top tier firms. You may be able to upgrade the quality of your representation while also slicing your costs.
Strong relationships with vendors
Too often, when sitting in the negotiation chair, it’s easy to forget that your vendor is someone that is integral to the success of your operations. It’s easy to justify the cheapest option up the managerial ranks. It’s easy to strong arm vendors into price points that feel like a win for you. It’s HARD to find a vendor that is willing to go the extra mile for you when the inevitable unusual event occurs. How is your relationship with the vendor when this occurs? Will they go the extra mile for you in order to help you out, or will they remember the grinder you put them through during the negotiation phase, and justify that they will only perform their contractual obligations?
Of course, the first thing everyone thinks about when negotiating terms is pricing. However, there are many other valuable options that your vendor may be willing to assist with in order to win your business. Are there specific workflows that your organization struggles with? Maybe you can offload a portion of that to your vendor. Can you bundle multiple service lines in order to obtain better rates, much like you can with home and auto insurance? Utilize creativity in the negotiation phase on items OTHER than price. Often it leads to a better result for both parties.
Your workload provides value to vendors, and it deserves quality, attention and exceptional service. Ensure that you’re realizing the value of the workload you’re providing and remember the added benefits that come from a strong relationship with your vendor. These relationships are pillars in times of uncertainty, as well as times of success. Create them, rely upon them.