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    With the global nature of the intellectual property (IP) market, many companies are using agent benchmarking to both monitor and minimise costs. Although you can find some answers online, it is still quite hard to answer a question that many companies are still left wondering, ‘What actually is agent benchmarking?’.

    We must admit it: this process can sometimes be complicated to wrap your head around. If you are still unsure as to whether these services could be of help to your business then look no further - this page will provide you with all the information you need to learn about agent benchmarking, and to decide whether agent benchmarking services could be beneficial to your business.

    What is Agent Benchmarking

    Stripped bare of the technical jargon, benchmarking at its core is the comparison of one thing against a set standard. In the remit of IP, therefore, agent benchmarking concerns the comparison of IP service provider/IP law firms against the standard for that market.

    If you are outsourcing the management of your IP portfolio, such as trademark renewals and the handling of infringements and new registrations et cetera, the fees charged by external counsels can be compared to the industry standard to ensure that you are not being unduly overcharged. Agent benchmarking can also be used to track the actual services offered by these external counsels for their respective fees, leaving you safe in the knowledge that you are getting a good deal for the services offered by your counsel.

    Essentially, agent benchmarking helps businesses to make better decisions as to which agents to work with and how best to allocate funds.

    Why use Agent Benchmarking?

     

    After the above explanation, the importance of agent benchmarking should be clearly evident – benchmarking enables you to be fully aware of the charges imposed upon you by external counsel and how these compare to the industry standard.

    This knowledge is, in itself, useful, though there are many other benefits to agent benchmarking.

    Transparency

    How to save time and money managing intellectual property renewals.jpgThe major result of using agent benchmarking service is that you will have complete clarity as to where you stand in relation to external counsels fees. You will be able to know whether you are overpaying for the same services that your peers are receiving cheaper, or whether you are receiving a comparative bargain.

    This transparency leads to peace of mind with many companies, as they rest safe in the knowledge that they are receiving the best service for the best price possible.

    Alternatively, if agent benchmarking service indicates that you are overpaying for services which your peers are getting for substantially lower fees then this knowledge is, arguably, even more useful, as this means you are able to either look elsewhere for those services or negotiate new fees.

     

    Easy international comparisons

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    Given the global nature of the IP market, it can often be difficult to determine whether you are paying reasonable costs for external counsel’s services in a foreign country.

    If you have an international brand, you may hire counsels in different territories in order to assist in the management of your IP portfolio. If this is the case with your company, you may find it difficult to know whether the fees you are being charged are standard for that territory.

     

    Can save you money

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    The aspect of agent benchmarking that the vast majority of companies are attracted by is the fact that agent benchmarking service can save you money.

    If, after conducting agent benchmarking service, you have found that you are actually overpaying on some fees, whether national or international, you can then begin taking steps to renegotiate these fees so as to reflect the true costs of the services provided, thereby saving you money.

    In extreme cases of overcharging, agent benchmarking could end saving you up to 40% of your original costs.

     

     

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    What is the process?

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    Although the nature and benefits of agent benchmarking have been herein explored, the process itself may still present a mystery to some companies.

    The exact nature of processes will obviously vary depending on which firm you choose to undertake your agent benchmarking project. However, the following general points will apply to all services:

    • The first stage will be to analyse the details of the nature of your business, the services provided and the fees charged, as well as your intentions for undertaking an agent benchmarking project. Of course, when disclosing any private business information to your chosen benchmarking provider, you should always ensure that conversations are strictly confidential.
    • Once the firm has this information, they will be able to cross reference this against the agents used by your peers and the fees they pay for their services. The firm will either already have this information, or will gather it to your request.
    • Once they have the information they need, the benchmarking firm will contact you with the results. You will either be told that you are overpaying for various services when compared to your peers, or that the fees you pay vastly match the average standard for similar services in the same industry (seldom).

    Regardless of whether the requisite information is gathered to order or already known by the firm, this process should not take longer than one month to complete. This means that, from the moment of requesting benchmarking service, you do not have long to wait to find out whether the fees you are being charged align with industry standards.

    As well as checking the reasonableness of fees paid for external counsels’ services, benchmarking can also tell you if those counsels are overcharging you for official fees. If you use external counsel to handle business such as filing or renewal of trademarks, then you will be charged official fees by the national offices in which these marks have to be registered or are registered. Agent benchmarking service will be able to tell you if your counsel is also overcharging these official fees with an easy comparison to the exact official fees charged by relevant national offices.

    If you are interested in agent benchmarking service and would like to know more, the full particulars of Brandstock’s agent benchmarking service can be found here.

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    What is the outcome?

    How to save time and money managing intellectual property renewals.jpgEssentially, agent benchmarking allows you to know where your external counsels’ fees rank compared to those of your peers.

    If benchmarking shows that your fees vastly align with the average for the services required then you can rest easy knowing that you are not being overcharged when compared to your peers for the same services. This peace of mind not only affects your current agent fees, but could also influence future decisions you make when it comes to hiring external counsels to assist with IP. Indeed, if benchmarking shows that your current external counsels’ fees are incredibly reasonable when compared with competitors, you may well want to seek their services again in future.

    Contrastingly, if benchmarking shows that your external counsel is overcharging for comparative services then arguably an agent benchmarking project has been more useful. Once aware that your current counsels are charging in excess you will be able to lower these costs, either by renegotiating terms with the same counsels, or by ‘shopping around’ for more reasonably priced counsels offering the same services (and the same quality).

    Some firms, including Brandstock, offer services supplemental to agent benchmarking, whereby experienced professionals can assist in negotiating service level agreements on the part of clients who wish to strike a better deal for their fees. These services can also include continued monitoring of costs so as to ensure that future fees are in line with these standards.

    As previously mentioned, it is this costs saving aspect that the majority of companies find the most attractive about benchmarking service, particularly in terms of budgeting, as benchmarking could result in up to 40% of initial costs being saved – money which could, therefore, be injected into other areas of the budget.

    Indeed, with Brandstock’s agent benchmarking services, the average costs savings for companies equate to 10 times the costs of undertaking the benchmarking project.

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