Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at November 2, 2005 10:31 AM
Insourcing is one of the main reasons Matt, Doug and I were drawn together almost a year ago. It was a conversation about how to work together to promote the insourcing of patent services to inland patent firms instead of outsourcing them abroad that started this great rethinking project. We've clearly gone beyond insourcing a major Rethink(IP) theme, but that topic is still close to our hearts.
In reviewing my client base recently I noticed something I hadn't seen before (and I'm sure my fellow rethinkers see too in their own practices), namely that the amount of work we are doing for foreign patent and trademark firms has substantially increased in the past few years. Substantially. Maybe The World is Flat has just opened my eyes more to the impact of technology and the Internet on my practice.
I'm not sure whether they are ditching their big city firms and insourcing to the Intermountain West and/or Midwest for customer service, for price, or for other reasons, but it is clearly happening. What amazes me is how quickly foreign IP attorneys get it, but US businesses as a whole don't.
Foreign IP work has traditionally been "quid pro quo," in that "if you send me work, I'll send you work." Perhaps it is due to the low performance of the US dollar or perhaps other factors, but the reality is that having IP work done in the US is as expensive as ever. In my opinion, this is a fact which is causing some foreign IP firms to consider other cost effective ways of protecting their client's intellectual property in the States, and one of those ways is insourcing. The result is that foreign firms are sending lots and lots of work to smaller firms in smaller metropolitan areas, firms that can't possibly support the old school quid pro quo.
Is it the end of "tit for tat" in IP work? I doubt it, but it is sure to have ripples in the market for worldwide IP services.
Other thoughts, insight and comments appreciated (the comments are open)...