This week we’re celebrating inovia’s 10th birthday! In April 2002, our founder Justin Simpson launched the company with his father Marcel by his side to celebrate. In the beginning, we were known as PCTFILER (later changing to inovia in 2008) and initially offered 7 countries in our foreign filing network.
We’ve grown significantly in the last 10 years and a lot has changed. Just to mention a few things:
- Our agent network has grown to cover over 80 countries.
- The www.inovia.com website has a very different look and feel.
- Our foreign filing platform, inovia.com, now offers instant quotes for PCT national stage entry and European validation as well as agent selection choice.
- We’ve grown from two employees to over 30, with offices in New York, London, Munich, Sydney and Tokyo.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve also seen a shift in the industry’s perception of foreign filing outsourcing. Justin had his work cut out for him when he first started the company. It was difficult to convince attorneys and companies that foreign filing work should be turned over to a specialist provider, since the concept was completely new. The story was the same when annuities providers were first starting out – and now outsourcing is commonplace there.
However, Justin got early buy in from forward-thinking investors, agents and clients who shared his vision for a simple, cost-effective and high quality solution to foreign filing. Today, we’re proud to say that we’ve worked with over 1,000 attorneys, companies and universities to streamline their PCT national stage entry, European validation and patent translation work.
It seems that things are changing across the board in the legal industry, too. A recent About.com article listed legal process outsourcing, alternative legal service delivery models, and alternative billing models among the “10 trends reshaping the legal industry.” The idea behind these trends, as well as our work, is to make law firms and corporate IP departments more efficient. By leaving administrative work to specialist providers, our clients can focus on their substantive (and more lucrative) work.
I spoke with Justin last week about why he founded inovia and his take on the last 10 years. Here’s a little bit from our conversation:
What inspired you to build the inovia platform?
I was working as a software-specialist patent attorney in the late 90’s and saw first-hand my clients’ struggles to afford foreign patent protection. When I looked into the work involved I could see that a lot of the costs happened at the initial filing stage when it was really just a process of filling in forms and paying fees around the world. I used my computer science background to design and patent some computer systems that automate the process and hence inovia was born.
What makes inovia stand out among its competitors?
Two things really – our technology and our great agent network. Because we’ve focused 10 years of IT development on automating the foreign filing process, I can honestly say that our technology for quoting on and filing patents is the best in the world. Our competitors either have no technology (doing everything by hand with paralegals) or they’ve attempted to copy our technology, but really haven’t done a great job. Secondly we’re backed by a network of top agents in 80 countries. Our competitors sometimes hide who their agents are, but we’re proud of ours. Most of them rank highly in the annual surveys by leading IP magazines, and the rest have been thoroughly vetted to ensure that their quality and client service match inovia’s high standards.
What one thing do you want the world to know about inovia, that they may not already know?
I think often patent firms see inovia as a competitor. But half of our clients are patent firms. Our technology simply provides a tool for patent firms to do foreign filing more efficiently, freeing up their billable hours for more substantive and strategic work. inovia is very very good at filling in forms. It doesn’t sound sexy, but that’s the heart of what we do. So attorney firms should take the time to explore whether they can make use of our tools and turn us from a (perceived) competitor into a partner.
What does the next 10 years hold for inovia?
I think we’re at a tipping point in the foreign patent filing space. When patent annuities started to be outsourced in the early 1970’s there was a slow growth. Then suddenly everyone realized that outsourced companies were best placed to handle annuities and a land-grab ensued around the world. I believe we’re at that point now. So although we handle the national phase of more PCTs than any law firm in the US, there’s a lot more room to grow. With 10 years’ experience and the best technology in the world, we’re well-placed to lead that change.
And we’ve got a range of new products we’ll be launching in the next 12 to 18 months that will expand our reach beyond PCT nationalization and European validation. But I can’t tell you too much, as it’s our little secret.
I also wrote to several of our clients to ask them about their feelings on inovia and the impact our service has made in their day-to-day work.
Jayshree Gerken, an attorney at JAG_IP_LAW, shared, “I provide strategic IP counseling to my clients, and I always recommend that they use inovia for their National Stage filings. I have appreciated the professional and friendly services of several folks at inovia!”
Eva Pahus and Paul Hilton from FOSS ANALYTICAL A/S, wrote, “Using inovia has certainly helped us in streamlining our PCT national phase entry procedure and has led to significant cost savings. We find the ‘one-click-quote’ quite useful for preparing and budgeting the entries. Finally, it’s most efficient that we only have to instruct multiple filings in only one instruction.”
Benita Rohm, Patent Attorney at ROHM & MONSANTO PLC, shared, ““Being from a small practice, one of the things that I find most beneficial in my relationship with inovia is having a trusted partner to take some of the administrative work required for filing off of my plate. It’s also really nice to have one stop shopping. Since I often get last minute instructions from clients, it’s much easier to issue one instruction and pay one fee for filing into multiple countries versus six.”
We’re certainly happy to hear that we’re making our clients’ jobs easier – after all, that’s why we were founded. You can read more client testimonials in our 10th anniversary press release.
I’ll leave you with a bit of inovia trivia: the patent filed for the technology serving the basis of our foreign filing platform (“System and method of attracting and lodging PCT national phase applications”) was recognized by WIPO in 2003 as a PCT Notable Invention.
Here’s to the innovations to come in our next 10 years… cheers, inovia!