IP firm provides solicitors with innovative outsourced trade mark service

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By Legal Futures

19 January 2011

Smith: virtual trade mark registration department

A service that enables law firms to offer trade mark registrations under their own brand without lifting a finger has been launched for the first time in the latest twist on legal process outsourcing.

Under the ‘white label’ trade mark registration service, all work is undertaken by intellectual property specialist solicitors Azrights in the background without the knowledge of clients.

This amounts to a adding “virtual trade mark registration department”’ to your practice, said Shireen Smith, sole principal of Azrights, which is based in north London. The service is provided via a transparent fixed fee that allows firms to determine their mark-ups.

Ms Smith said: “Using cutting-edge technology and work flows that address every detail, [we have] put together a superior service that undertakes trade mark registration work in the name of the law firm itself.”

Firms keep control by having web-based remote access to their client’s files. In the first instance, a dedicated web site provides firms with standard letters of engagement, factsheets and other tools to help them market the service to clients.

City firm Silverman Sherliker and Southampton firm Lawdit are among the lawyer-run websites aimed at trade mark registrations that are already in the market. But the Azrights venture claims to be the first outsourced offering that gives a firm the ability to provide trade marking services under its own banner.

Ms Smith said it would appeal to company lawyers that have trade mark work to do as part of corporate deals, while “a lot of IP firms don’t do trade mark registration”. This is in part because of a historical split in functions between solicitors and trade mark attorneys, she said, but this is breaking down as trade mark attorneys become more involved in litigation, previously the province of solicitors. Any firm that has at least one trade mark to register can sign up to the service.

Azrights claims that as well as an efficient and low-cost add-on to firms’ existing services, its trade mark registrations offer the prospect of new sources of revenue from work arising beyond the initial registration, such as subsequent international protections and litigation.

Having access to clients’ files means firms can satisfy themselves of the quality of work done at any time, said Ms Smith. Another advantage is that the firm “benefits in being compliant with SRA regulations and not unwittingly breaching regulations such as those forbidding the sharing of profits with non-lawyers,” she said.

“The benefit for the client is less disruption by not having to engage another service provider. As the client never becomes the client of Azrights, it does not need to review Azrights’ terms of business. The law firm gains too by maintaining its relationship with its client, and being seen as the ‘go to’ provider for a greater number of services.”

Azrights also specialises in Internet law and Ms Smith said she has “a number of other IP white labelling services in the pipeline”.

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