AI Holds the Key to Better Trademark Enforcement

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will change the trademark world

A resounding 93% of respondents feel that AI will have a net positive impact on their work and jobs. The ability to get work done more quickly ranked highly with 90% of respondents.  Enabling work to be done at a lower cost was the second most popular choice.

Over 50% of firms expect AI will significantly impact their prosecution work within the next five years.  Firms with larger trademark portfolios expect the impact will come earlier than companies with smaller portfolios, with one reason being that a number of smaller firms fear that they will not have the ability or resources to implement AI. It is expected that AI will have the biggest impact on clearance searches. Areas after that include: gathering supporting materials; preparing trademark applications; and carrying out portfolio audits.

With respect to enforcement, the impact is expected to take a bit longer, but 72% expect AI to impact enforcement work within the next ten years.  AI is expected to have the biggest impact on online infringements searches and the preparation of takedown notices.

European firms are investing more in their trademark teams

On average, firms headquartered in Europe have larger trademark teams than those in North America and the Asia Pacific. European firms with smaller trademark portfolios had, on average, teams that were twice as large as their counterparts in other regions. However, the Europeans with larger portfolios have teams that are on average 75% larger than the Asia Pacific headquartered firms and 48% larger than North American headquartered firms.

While there is a notable increase in the number of qualified lawyers when comparing smaller portfolio to larger portfolio owners, the average number per firm evens out, and there isn't a significant increase as portfolio size increases beyond 5,000 marks. In contrast, there is a consistent increase in the average number of non-lawyers set against increasing portfolio sizes.

Firms are concentrating spend on prosecutions in fewer regions, compared to their enforcement spend

Three regions account for over 90% of responses to the question of the top 3 countries firms are spending the most on for prosecution: East Asia, EU, and North America. This likely reflects the home jurisdictions of the respondents. In contrast, enforcement spend is more widely distributed, with the same regions accounting for only 54% of respondents' top 3 jurisdictions by expenditure. The EU is also shown to be the most popular region for enforcement spend with 23% of responses, while North America is only fourth with 13%. Respondents seem to be allocating a higher percentage of their enforcement budget to Asia – other with 17%, while only 5% of respondents selected it as one of their top three regions for prosecution spend.

China poses the greatest challenge to trademark teams but is also making the most improvements

Countries in the Asia Pacific ranked highly for posing problems in both prosecution and enforcement work. Six of the top ten most challenging jurisdictions for prosecution work and five of the top ten most challenging for enforcement work were Asian countries. China was identified as being the most challenging country for both prosecution and enforcement, followed by India. Despite this, it's also recognized by 26% of respondents that China has made the greatest step forward in improving the laws governing trademark prosecution. Similarly, China is identified as the most improved jurisdiction for enforcement in the last four years, with 46% of responses.

How to ensure success in an ever-changing landscape

In conclusion, there is a great opportunity for brand owners to use AI to gain efficiencies, speed up their work and streamline processes while reducing costs and ensuring resources are used effectively.

However, there is worrying lack of awareness about AI and firms risk missing out on its benefits due to insufficient knowledge and investment in the new technology. This is an area where all firms should be paying more attention and seeking out beneficial opportunities.

Asia remains the geographical area causing the greatest challenges for trademark enforcement and prosecution. While there are weaknesses in some aspects of the legal enforcement systems in this region, it consistently attracts the greatest trademark spend, with predicted increases in the future. It is important that multinational firms increase the enforcement portion of their total trademark spend in Asia to ensure their valuable brands are protected.

This contributed article is by Lloyd Parker, Asia Pacific and Middle East Head of Intellectual Property, Hogan Lovells. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends.

Lloyd Parker, Asia Pacific and Middle East Head of Intellectual Property, Hogan Lovells believes AI can be a game changer when it comes to trademark enforcement.