When it comes to protecting your brand, there are many things you may know, but there are still going to be areas in which you feel you could use more information. There are so many specializations when it comes to the law that you could be concerned there is something you’re missing.
You may have a good deal of experience serving on your particular team, but what could be slipping through the cracks? You should not have to take on trademarks for your company on your own. Especially when it comes to trademark renewals.
When there are experts that specialize in IP, you can be confident that these intellectual property lawyers know what they’re doing when it comes to trademark registration and trademark renewals. They can tell you what you might be missing, what you might be overpaying for, and more, all of which means less stress for you and your team who already have enough on your plate.
You don’t have to feel like it’s up to you to know it all, although you may look at your role as all-encompassing. If you’re facing the upcoming feat of getting a trademark renewal and on the fence about whether outsourcing is right for you, read on. We’ll go over just how easy the process can be.
Outsourcing with a Trademark Renewal Service Can Make Workflow More Efficient
If you're on the fence about outsourcing your trademark renewal, it’s fair to want to be sure you’re saving both time and money — two invaluable components of your job and the jobs of others. The change when electing to outsource services is something that should hardly be felt, except in a good way, of course. It should fit in well with your day to day, while at the same time making your life easier – not slowing you down, nor making you feel anxious or skeptical of your new partner’s services.
Here are some examples of how outsourcing your trademark renewals can make your department more efficient.
Ease of Paperwork & Billing
You want to make sure you’re billed the correct amount and not overcharged. It makes sense to wonder, “How will I know the outsourcers are being transparent with billing?” If the invoices you receive only display one single amount for each renewal with no breakdown, then how will you know whether a charge is correct?
For clients who want to be able to audit invoicing, request a breakdown of the charges before receiving the invoice. When it comes to foreign exchange charges, we treat agent and official fees as disbursements, so the costs passed on to you are what we paid when those disbursements were settled.
The document requirements for trademark renewals vary, and these make up a large part of the work involved. Preparing and executing powers of attorney and affidavits of use, as well as the legalization and notarization processes, can be incredibly time-consuming – and getting these all correct is crucial.
Why should an administrative burden rest on your shoulders when you could be dedicating your time and resources to other things? An outsourced partner would handle it all the necessary forms, paperwork, agents and official fees for you.
While many clients are happy to allow us to work with our network, others value the relationships they already have in place with their current agents and would prefer not to let that go. We, therefore, respect and make it possible for you to work with your preferred agents, in the territories that you choose.
You shouldn’t have to drop a partner you’re comfortable with to bring on a new one; rather, they should be willing and able to work with the existing team for smooth, headache-free integration.
You also want to be sure you can access up-to-date information and documents whenever you need. Online platforms make all data available to you at all times. This way you can see the status of renewals and related documentation, which you can download as needed and without charge. You’re still in the driver’s seat despite others having been given a key.
If you have an in-house IP management system, you need to keep it up-to-date when it comes to renewals, too, preferably without having to carry out the data entry yourself. An outsourced trademark renewal partner should include the option of updating your in-house system as well.
What if a change in ownership is missing or an address is found to have not been recorded? Rest assured that with the right outsourced intellectual property lawyers, a proactive approach will be taken along the way so that all related tasks are in safe hands – you don’t want a seemingly small detail, which could end up carrying a lot of weight in the long run, to be overlooked.
Ask for a dedicated project manager who will alert you to issues during trademark renewal and make recommendations as to how they can best be dealt with, based on cost and other relevant factors. Providers should work to the most exacting, detailed standards. Renewals teams should be thoroughly trained and take the highest care possible to prevent errors.
The attention to detail may sound almost too good to be true. Surely something that adds so much convenience to your work must be costly? Not necessarily. If you follow our guide and know what to be on the lookout for, you’ll know how to get a sense of whether you’re being taken advantage of in the trademark renewal process.
How to Make Sure You’re Not Paying More Than Necessary For Trademark Renewal Services
The decision on whether to retain a new trademark renewal service provider is often solely based on the group’s handling fee – strangely enough. In very few cases are the competitiveness of local law firm prices, the use of correct official fees, and actual FX rates taken into account by the client. They may not know any better or realize that it can make much of a difference. Armed with the advice and information contained in this article, you can avoid this mistake.
Where Other Companies Add Fees
Competition (and commoditization) can only push prices down so far. Certain practices have sprung up to counteract the downward pressure on fees, and therefore profitability, such as the following:
- Inflated Official Fees – Trademark owners are still paying hefty mark-ups, generally between 30%-50% (and, in some cases, as much as 1,500%). We do not want you to fall into this trap.
- Inflated Foreign Exchange (FX) – FX is being used by some to inflate charges artificially, and yet the majority of IP owners seem blissfully unaware or indifferent. Do not be one of them. These can be sneakily added into your total.
- Inflated Local Law Firm Fees – Many firms charge simply what they feel they can get away with, and in the absence of benchmarked pricing, IP owners such as yourself would otherwise have no real means of knowing.
What You Can Do About It
To avoid situations of inflated charges, we recommend that you request RFPs. These should include local agent fees and official fees, in local currency. Agent fees must be benchmarked against peer group data, and official fees have to be checked against the fee schedules published by local patent and trademark offices.
Trademark owners will want to ensure that they will always be comparing the most competitive fees, irrespective of the size of the portfolio. This comparison may sound a bit daunting, but by enlisting the help of an agency like ours, it can easily be achieved through a benchmarking project and completed in under six months.
SLAs and Billing Guidelines must also incorporate provisions dealing with the application of official fees and FX rates, such as:
- Being able to identify the official fee in local currency in every invoice.
- Details of FX rates, along with their source and the conversion date.
- With regard to FX rates, it’s suggested that a general margin of up to 5% could be accepted as an industry standard.
- SLAs also have to include provisions related to the review of charges made and compensation in the event of irregularity.
- You will also want to make sure any electronic billing systems work with modified Ledes codes and are able to automatically check invoices against agreed local agent fees and accurate official fees.
At Brandstock, we like to provide clients with a toolkit in addition to all the essential knowledge. Clients must be able to have access to accurate and up-to-date official fees in local currency, whenever they want it. We offer handy, proprietary calculation tools as well as invoicing assistance to make figuring all of this out a cinch.
We do understand that, despite all our years of expertise in trademark renewal, you might be a little apprehensive about letting people you don’t know in on what your team does every day. If you still aren’t entirely sold on why a close relationship of this sort could be a great decision, we encourage you to continue reading.
The following common questions cover the main concerns that others have had in the past and how we handle them here at Brandstock. You may recognize some of these as concepts we already covered, but they are essential to fully understand how this all works before bringing on an outsourced partner.
Outsourcing Trademark Renewals Common Questions
Again, let this serve as a summary of what we’ve learned thus far. Once you run through these common questions, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what to expect and be confident when seeking an outsourced group.
1. Savings: Does outsourcing trademark renewals really save time and money?
When trademark renewals are done in-house, one or more people are needed—to follow up with agents, set reminders, monitor deadlines, etc.—for multiple trademarks in multiple countries around the world. It makes sense to shift this administrative burden to an outside provider, freeing up in-house resources for higher value tasks (thereby ultimately being an immense time-saver).
We save you time in two major ways:
- First, we provide a single, senior-level point of contact who takes an active role in managing your trademark renewals and to whom you can delegate responsibility with confidence.
- Second, we have an online platform that provides you with an “at a glance” view of progress with all your renewals and from which reports can be easily generated.
We save you money, as you benefit from the volume-based discounts we’ve negotiated with our agent network. Our clients have each made an overall cost saving by moving their in-house trademark renewals administration to us.
2. Cost transparency: How will we know whether we are being charged correctly for trademark renewals?
For clients who want to be able to audit our invoicing, we provide a complete itemized list of charges for each trademark renewal.
3. Invoicing: How will we be billed for the work on outsourced trademark renewals?
When handling renewals in-house, you must manage all the invoicing from agents for each renewal. Invoicing from your renewals provider isn’t merely replacing one burden with another. The vast majority of our clients prefer quarterly billing cycles, and we adjust our billing cycle and format to suit your specific needs.
4. Agents: Would the provider be willing to work with our agent network who already knows our portfolio?
Many of our clients are happy for us to work with our network who are familiar with our working standards and technologies. Others value the relationships they have with their agents and would prefer not to let that go, even for renewals – so we make it possible for you to work with your preferred agents for a seamless feel.
5. Access to data: If we use an outside provider are we still going to have ready access to documents and information?
You never know when you may need a copy of a filing receipt or a certificate, for example, for litigation or Customs purposes. You want to be sure that up-to-date information and documents are going to be available to you, without being charged to access them.
Our online platform makes all data available to you at all times, showing you the status of renewals and related documentation which you can download as needed.
6. Managing risk: How confident can we be that trademark renewals will not be missed?
You want to be sure that your chosen provider will take every precaution to ensure that none of your trademarks are put at risk. Just because a provider deals in large volumes of trademark renewals does not provide adequate assurance.
We work to the most critical standards. We train our renewals teams thoroughly and take the highest care possible to prevent any errors. (We invite clients to visit our Munich base to see our renewals operation, first hand, when able and willing to travel.)
7. Data transfer: How will we keep our in-house IP management system updated?
An optional part of our service includes updating your in-house system, either directly (granted secure access permissions, of course) or by delivery of compatible files which can be uploaded to your system.
8. Onboarding: How will we manage the handover to an outside provider during trademark renewal?
The handover process could be where things go awry. The last thing you want is for something to slip through the net while passing information to your chosen renewals provider. How will this be handled and how can you be sure it's done correctly?
We have a tried-and-tested process for onboarding new clients, which ensures a smooth start to the trademark renewals process.
We Have Your Best Interest in Mind
In conclusion, it should be apparent that we’ll be working with you, even in a bit of a behind-the-scenes sense, so you will have much less to worry about with all your other responsibilities. Our services should not be very noticeable – they work to ease the burden all these tasks would otherwise have on you so that you only notice the effects of a lighter load.
Rather than feeling like you’re just adding on another service that you worry could take a long time to onboard or may confuse team members (or other service providers you already have), with us you should feel like there is less standing in your way than before. We aim to quickly enable you to get back to the other things you have to do.
Don’t get stuck hiring another slowdown – cut hidden costs and simultaneously make the job easier for you and your team. When you reach out to a trademark renewal outsourcer like us, rest assured you are choosing to work smarter, not harder!