David Hume, the 18th century Scottish philosopher, argued that we cannot be certain the sun will rise tomorrow. Over the past nine-months David Hume has never seemed more right.
It has been a tough period, professionally and personally for people from all walks of life, and for businesses from nearly every sector. But, while there has been adversity, there have been many rays of sunlight and causes for optimism.
The past nine months, for example, has seen unprecedented collaboration between long time competitors such as Sanofi and GSK; fashion brands have repurposed overnight to produce PPE; distillers have turned their skills to hand-sanitizers, while motorsport has stepped in to design much needed ventilators. Indeed, nine-months into the pandemic it can be too easy to forget the inspiring stories.
This spirit of innovation has led, as is often the case in tumultuous times, to an increase in patent filings. And the new culture of cohesion and collaboration has seen the other side of IP law – its enforcement - fall off the proverbial cliff; the issuing of claims in the High Court generally was significantly lower than usual over 2020.
However, the reduction in litigation, whether IP or otherwise, cannot solely be ascribed to this togetherness. Many businesses have been focussed on the day-to-day; making sure that the sun rises tomorrow for their clients, customers and staff. The uncertainty of the future has limited medium and long-term planning, heavily constrained budgets and absorbed management time. Enforcing IP has not always been the priority. In short, it can be hard to sow seeds for summer when the winter is yet to pass.
However, taking Annie as our guide rather than David Hume, the sun will come out tomorrow, and it is essential that businesses are prepared for it. And one key aspect of preparing for tomorrow is to ensure that the business’ rights, protections and innovations, often its very USP, have not been diluted, dissipated or stolen.
It was in seeking to help with this agenda that, at the end of last year, Shoosmiths launched IP Fixed™ - an innovative IP litigation product centred around cost certainty.
IP Fixed™ is part of Shoosmiths’ “The New How” - a portfolio of innovative legal products designed to help our clients work “smarter, faster, better” in the new normal. The New How is about changing the way we do things to produce better outcomes for our clients.
So when it comes to enforcing IP rights or defending claims we want our clients to think like Annie and not Hume. Our focus on certainty not only reflects our clients’ travails since the start of the pandemic but also their feedback that the fluid costs of IP litigation and annual budgets are uncomfortable bedfellows. We decided to use our collective experience in IP litigation to develop a product that helped smooth those unexpected fluctuations in running and paying for such proceedings.
Putting certainty at the heart of IP Fixed™ will allow our clients to fix the costs of IP litigation at each stage or even all the way to trial, and budget accordingly. We can even arrange for payment by instalments to allow the quiet months to subsidise the busy ones and, because costs are fixed in advance, clients will not need to worry about the clock being started every time they pick up the phone.
Of course, it is the strength of our knowledge in IP law, and especially the depth of the experience of our IP litigators, that gives us the confidence to create and offer IP Fixed. And it is that very experience that means we will remain focussed on seeking the best commercial outcome for our clients at all times. We are always aware that IP enforcement, and litigation generally, is a means to an end and never the goal itself.
Whether clients are enforcing patents, trade marks copyright or other IP rights, or even defending IP claims, they will be able to instruct a leading IP law firm both with confidence and cost certainty. And when the sun does come up, they will be ready.