Marketing your IP firm is especially important in the digital age, where clients rely heavily on the internet to search for legal resources and IP lawyers.
So, what is the best way to put forward your IP law firm through marketing?
Make your IP Law Firm Website Appealing, Informative and Accessible
If you're an average reader, you won't read beyond this heading. This is because, according to Time, an average reader spends 15 seconds on a website - that's how long you have to convince a potential client that visits your law firm's website.
Your website is usually where clients get to meet you for the first time and where they get a sense of whether or not you're the right fit for them.
Your website should look as professional and elegant as possible and have an optimized load time. A poorly designed site will drive up your bounce rate (the rate at which visitors leave your website).
Your IP site should also adopt website design best practices, including selecting a topography that is easy to read and skim, optimizing your website for mobile, and using images to engage and inform readers.
Ensure your IP Law Firm Website is SEO Optimized
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a must for anyone who wants to have an effective web presence. SEO helps your potential clients find you on the internet. Importantly, a strong SEO optimization helps your IP site rank high on Google's search result page whenever someone searches related keywords.
Keyword research is a crucial element of any IP law firm's SEO strategy. You need to target specific keywords with high search volume but mid to low competition that will attract the type of clients you want to work with.
These may include keywords relating to "NFTs", "patent registration in the EU", or "trademark lawyers for SMEs". You can use keyword research tools like ahrefs.com or SEMrush.com to find these high traffic keywords.
Optimize your IP Site for Local Search Results
If a search is run online for "trademark lawyers in Germany" or "IP law firms near me", does your website appear on the search result?
According to Nectafy, 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
You should optimize your IP law firm's site for geo-specific keywords by including your geographical area in your list of keywords. Google's Keyword Planner can give you some suggestions for geo-targeted keywords. You should also create a Google My Business profile, which helps recommend your law firm to customers.
List Your IP Law Firm on Legal Directories
You can submit your law firm's information to either paid or free legal directories to drive potential clients to your site. You should look for authoritative directories that your potential clients trust as reputable resources.
Some of them are:
The Legal 500
Utilize Social Media to Your Advantage
The average internet user spends more than 2 hours and 24 minutes on social media sites.
Social media is a vital tool in marketing your IP law firm, with each social media platform having its benefits.
Marketing your IP law firm is now more important than ever. Getting the word out there is not enough to have to pay clients, but converting leads to clients does the job.
If there is any truth in the adage that the past is the best predictor of the future, then the evolution of the Intellectual Property (IP) industry in the last 50 years holds some secrets about the future of IP in the year 2050 and beyond.
Intellectual property has been in existence since bakers in ancient Greece sought to obtain the exclusivity of making a special bread for a year. The nature of protection offered by IP has, however, evolved over the years.
In the last five decades, globalization and international trade have intensified, questioning the effect of the territoriality of IP protection. However, IP rights are generally territorial, offering protection only within the country of registration. Therefore, a holder of a patent, for example, is required to register the invention in each country where the holder seeks protection. Worse still, the national legislations and applicable IP laws and regulations in most countries differ from one another. Consequently, international treaties have emerged to facilitate the internationalization of IP laws.
Some of these treaties include:
the Patent Cooperation Treaty adopted in 1970 to simplify and provide a unified procedure for the protection of inventions in several countries;
the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks was adopted in 1989 to make the Madrid system more flexible and more compatible with domestic legislation and intergovernmental organizations. It provides a mechanism whereby a trademark owner who has an existing trademark application or registration (known as the 'basic application' or 'basic registration') in a member jurisdiction may obtain an 'international registration' for their trademark from the WIPO;
the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property adopted in 1994, to establish adequate standards and principles concerning the availability, scope, and use of trade-related intellectual property rights, and a minimum level of protection that WTO Members are required to provide to the intellectual property of other Members; and
the European Patent Convention was adopted in 1973 to aid patent registration across Europe through a single application.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization database, there are 208 international treaties that regulate matters related to IP.
IP Protection for Technological Innovations
We have witnessed tremendous technological innovations in the last five decades. However, IP laws have not changed so much. Generally, existing IP laws protect new technologies to the extent that such technologies are new, satisfying the novelty requirement, and fall within the nature of works protected by a patent, design, copyright, or trademark. These include innovations, artistic works, literary works, musical works, brands, and designs. An example of this is computer software, which has been categorized as a literary work and registrable as copyright. It is also registrable as a patent, where evidence of an invention can be established.
However, existing IP laws have offered little protection where a technological innovation does not fall within the definition of a registrable work. A recent example is the attempt to register an invention (interlocking food containers) created by DABUS, an artificial intelligence system, which has been accepted in South Africa and Australia but rejected in the U.S. and the U.K. The rejections have come on the basis that under the domestic IP laws of the U.K and the U.S, the inventor of a patent must be a person, and an AI is not a person. Interestingly, the IP laws in South Africa and Australia have similar limitations on who may be recognized as the inventor of a patent; however, the Courts have found ingenious ways to interpret the laws.
The Next 50 Years
In the next 50 years, we are likely to see a continuous adaptation of IP laws to meet current realities. The fourth and fifth industrial revolutions have come with potential disruption to the protection of Intellectual Property, and regulations must adapt, be reformed or set aside.
We are also likely to see a call for greater harmonization of IP laws globally. The advent of the internet has made territorially registered IPs accessible to a global audience. Furthermore, increased international trade has blurred the lines between countries. Accordingly, IP registration must offer wholesome protection to remain relevant over the next 50 years.
A recent survey of about 400 law firms and corporate IP departments, conducted by CPA Global, an IP technology and service provider, identified three key strategies for law firms to improve their understanding of corporate requirements and drive profitable growth.
Time is Money: Choose Technology
Respondents of the survey considered cost and profitability as the most significant challenges in the next three years. This stresses the importance of firm productivity to drive profits.
The survey found that 31 percent of respondents perceived technology as a tool that can help improve practise efficiency and profitability and act as an opportunity for growth in the next three years.
IP firms that leverage technology to develop responsive support services for day-to-day IP operations will better satisfy client demand for a high-quality service at a low cost. Furthermore, IP technology can streamline internal processes and improve process efficiency and data accuracy. Technology can also enable lawyers with the firm to focus on providing strategic advice to clients.
Find the Space to Grow: Outsource Administrative Tasks
IP firms face the challenge of staffing to support client needs, technical expertise and managing client's demand. Reducing the time spent on administrative tasks gives firms the space to grow.
IP firms may either reduce time spent on administrative tasks or outsource them entirely by partnering with external IP service providers, outsourcing areas including docketing, proofreading, renewals and reference management.
External IP management and technology providers can ease the administrative burden on IP firms. In addition, these service providers can work alongside a firm to help reduce costs while increasing responsiveness to client needs.
Take the Strategic Approach
The survey established that corporate departments are willing to invest in strategic counsel that will help position their company with a more relevant and efficient IP portfolio despite cost pressures. For IP firm success, this means building a trusted and strategic relationship with clients, focusing less on transactional tasks and more on adding value.
IP firms can become strategic partners by proactively identifying ways in which their clients can save money while adding value. Firms that can demonstrate the relative value of specific IP filings to their clients can help them unlock cost savings. By highlighting IP that delivers significant return on investment, IP firms can help corporates make more strategic choices over filings and renewals and maintain the most effective IP portfolio. Going beyond these services to become integral parts of corporations will help firms establish long term relationships with clients.
IP firms that wish to grow business from corporate IP departments need to demonstrate relevant IP experience to clients; they need to help corporates understand where IP is driving business value and provide strategic advice that can actively help in cost control.