5 Signs You Need IDS Automation
Preparing information disclosure statements is a headache for most IP teams, but it doesn’t have to be. Automating your IDS process speeds up your workflow, ensures information integrity, and protects your most valuable support staff from burnout.
Manual data entry is not an easy job. It's tiring, repetitive, and prone to human error. And, in the intellectual property world, it's both infamously complex and integral to the success of your patent prosecution.
IDS generation, in particular, can be quite a burden for any team. Imagine handling an unexpected foreign office action that foreign counsel notifies you of at the last second. And, of course, it's for a massive patent family. Or, maybe you get a load of cases transferred to your firm by a new client – and now have to audit all of the previous firm's work for errors.
Even the most mundane, everyday disclosures add up, requiring valuable time and attention from support staff and attorneys alike.
Inefficiency is costing you, and automation can fix that. According to the 2021 Future Ready Lawyer Survey, 75% of legal professionals say improved efficiency and productivity will be a top trend that impacts their organization over the next three years. Yet, only 31% feel ready for that change. Make sure you are a part of that 31%.
Here are five signs you need to automate your IDS process:
1) You inherited an IDS backlog from an old firm.
When a firm gains a new client, an audit of the previous firm’s work can reveal instances where an IDS was not filed when it should have been. Time-consuming enough on their own, these reviews typically lead to a sudden backlog of work for your already overburdened support staff.
On top of all this, when working on one of these backlogs, you may come up against even tighter deadlines than usual since you are receiving an application in the middle of prosecution. With an even shorter window to turn in necessary documents, you may miss your filing deadline, paying more fees to the USPTO.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to a tool that could help you review the backlog, identify pending IDSs, and generate the necessary paperwork before paying additional fees? Tools like Juristat IDS instantly traverse the patent family tree, identify active cases, and determine what prior art has already been cited. When auditing an IDS backlog, you can take advantage of technology to speed up your review, modernizing your process without putting undue stress on your support staff.
2) You work with large patent families.
Putting together one IDS can be done reasonably quickly. But when there is a large family involved, it snowballs fast. You need to check every single app in the family, reviewing every IDS, 892, or search report. If there are 10 related applications, you're doing 10 different reviews. And extended family members in the patent family can add even more work to your process.
Searching for references, making sure everything is cited correctly, and re-formatting it all for filing – the process is an overwhelming hassle primed for human error. And speaking of errors…
3) You want to avoid the risk of manual error.
The problem with IDSs isn’t necessarily the process itself – it’s requiring humans to do the work.
In the Forbes article "Why You Should Consider the Cost Of Human Error," AI expert Anthony Macciola explains that "lack of experience, attention loss, or fatigue can result in employees forgetting to complete tasks, sending documents to the wrong colleague or customer, or typing mistakes that impact [the quality of a project]." He explains how repetitive work is not only bad for business but "one-in-four employees want to quit their job because of bad business processes."
Manual data entry, cross-referencing, copying and pasting, and respecting the unique requests of each client is, to put it mildly, exhausting. In this age of automation and process improvement, it's vital to recognize that humans are not wired for this type of work. And technology can relieve some of that impossible burden.
4) You are short-staffed.
If you work in IP, you know the value of talented, experienced support staff. It takes a highly skilled person to stay aware of all the intricate components of the patent prosecution process. And once you find someone that can handle and even improve your workflow, you don't want to lose them to burnout and overuse. Unfortunately, the average burnout rate for legal teams is estimated to be around 28%, with high workload and work pressure cited as a central driver for employee unhappiness.
Automating your IDS process can help support your highly skilled, highly valuable staff. In our recent State of IP Support roundtable discussion, Lanitra Bryant, U.S. Patent Prosecution Manager at Arent Fox Schiff, echoed this sentiment, saying, “With certain tasks outsourced, like IDS, it frees the specialist up to work on more higher-level tasks.” By implementing automation, you can shift staff focus away from tedious data entry and on to more intricate, valuable work.
With a simpler workflow, less time dedicated to menial tasks, and more time to invest in professional development, valuable support staff members feel more fulfilled and invested in their employer’s success. And IDS automation is just one of many strategies to ensure that fulfillment.
5) You don’t want to hire more staff.
The legal industry has not been immune to the effects of the “Great Resignation.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 700,000 people in the professional and business services category — including lawyers and other legal professionals — quit their jobs between August 2021 and December 2021.
Hiring more staff, especially those equipped with the knowledge and experience to handle IDS work, can be a drain on your resources. The expenses necessary to recruit, interview, hire, and train add up, and that's even before you add another salary to your roster.
The pacing problem with IDS further complicates your staffing problem. Predicting any patterns or seasonality of IDSs has proven difficult (we’re working on the data!), and that doesn’t even factor in the variance of workload from a single IDS. If we’re talking about one of those worst-case scenarios – large patent family, lots of references – a single IDS can take hours of staff time.
With IDS, you often can’t predict your busiest season and you don’t want to risk over-staffing. But if you are understaffed, you risk staff burnout, missed deadlines, and frustrated clients. All of this is avoidable if you supplement your workforce with IDS automation. The tools can relieve your current staff, streamline their process, and minimize the need to hire new personnel. Whenever an unexpected rush of IDS work comes in, you have the technology necessary to create order in the usual chaos.
If you are facing any one of these frustrations, IDS automation presents an opportunity for relief. Juristat IDS instantly traverses the patent family tree, identifies active cases, and determines what prior art has already been cited – all without you having to log in to any new tools. With industry-leading data and AI, we know every application filed at the USPTO, each piece of prior art cited, and the familial relationships between applications.
Do you recognize any of these pain points in your current IDS process? See how IDS automation transforms your practice.