Due to the recent economic slowdowns, several corporations and law firms are under pressure to reduce their overheads. Expenses like general administration, setting up in-house paralegal teams, and knowledge management account for about 20% of the total overhead expenses that law firms (with 20+ lawyers) typically incur.
That’s why the Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) industry is thriving. The LPO industry’s revenue growth between 2010-2015 was 26%. Currently, is sector is growing by 40% each year. Third-party patent paralegal services make up a significant chunk of this sector.
These services are designed to support patent attorneys/agents at corporations and law firms. The leading providers of intellectual property paralegal services operate in multiple countries. They offer high-quality paralegal services at highly affordable rates. Corporations and law firms are able to attain a plethora of services at negligible costs.
Some of these “virtual” paralegal services include –
- Keeping track of competitors.
- Consistent patent application monitoring.
- Providing regular alerts about the latest patents in specific fields of innovation.
- IP docketing for multiple patent offices.
- Preparing patent application documents.
- Proofreading patent application documents.
- End-to-end IDS management.
- Verifying data to help in prior-art searches.
- Form preparation.
- Form filling.
- Recording and tracking assignments.
- Petition filing.
- Notice of allowance reviews.
- Trademark OA response preparation.
- Office action shell response.
- IDS audit and preparation.
- Making continued examination requests.
- Making annuity fee calculations and payments.
- Facilitating amendments to patent documents.
- Reissue or re-examinations of patent applications.
How can paralegals deal with Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications or PCT US National Phase applications virtually? These highly experienced professionals use state-of-the-art tools. They combine automation and manual techniques to provide time and cost-effective patent paralegal services to corporations and law firms across the world.
Efficiency and Scalability
Patent paralegals or legal assistants were first employed by reputed law firms that had to deal with heavy workloads every day. Delegating their non-core activities to legal assistants enabled these firms to be more efficient. However, in this current environment, recruiting paralegal staff in-house is an expense that most corporations and law firms can’t afford.
But, patent paralegals perform extremely vital tasks for corporations and law firms. This job position can’t be eliminated from the patent industry as it’s extremely important. Outsourcing is the perfect alternative. Legal process outsourcing enables corporations and law firms to increase the profit margins by saving in-house resources. Thus, they’re able to boost their patent portfolios without damaging their overall profitability.
Contrary to popular belief, virtual legal assistance is extremely efficient. A lot of legal work has been modernized and digitized in the past decade. This modernization led to the rise of virtual paralegal specialists. Plus, companies and law firms get to tap into larger talent groups containing more experienced professionals when they opt for virtual paralegal services. The companies and law firms get to choose who they work with.
Top virtual patent paralegals modify their services to fill any existing gaps in a law firm’s or company’s in-house patent management strategy. Top virtual paralegal companies assign experts to different projects based on their capabilities. For instance, if a law firm wants an expert on patents involving biochemistry, virtual paralegal companies will assign suitable experts.
Virtual paralegal companies also get to employ larger workforces which are often spread across the globe. As a result, these LPO providers and knowledge management experts can work 24/7 to ensure their clients don’t have to face any time-zone-related issues. They have access to advanced ERP tools like integrated IP docketing software, so their services often give their clients competitive edges over less technologically sophisticated law firms and corporations.
The main advantage of virtual paralegal services is the flexibility these experts offer. Virtual paralegal companies employ different patent experts as per the category of patent cases that are the most relevant. For example, the number of design patent filings has increased every year in the past decade. Companies or law firms that don’t have the resources or the workforces to deal with so many design patent filings turn to virtual paralegal companies.
That’s because virtual paralegal companies have larger workforces. They can adapt to new industry situations much better than small-scale in-house teams. Plus, these services are typically available on a short-term and temporary basis. Corporations and law firms can attain these services for specific patent cases.
Cooperation with Patent Offices
The best virtual paralegal companies operate globally, and they’re well aware of the complexities in different patent jurisdictions. These experts carry out tasks like patent filing, form preparations, IP docketing, etc., every day. Their understanding of how patent offices across the world function helps their clients a lot.
Be it the “National Intellectual Property Administration of the People’s Republic of China” or the USPTO; these experts always make sure that their clients follow the guidelines of respective patent offices. Thus, the risks of missing deadlines or the patent application getting abandoned are eliminated.
The global Legal Process Outsourcing sector is expected to grow by 31.8% by 2025. Providers of virtual patent paralegal services are key players in this market as more and more law firms and corporations are using them to strengthen their patent portfolios!