Only one of 1,200 global legaltech patent applications filed in UK


WIPO: China leading the way with legaltech applications

Nearly 1,200 legaltech patent applications were filed around the world last year but only one by a company based in the UK, researchers have found.

Chinese companies filed nearly two thirds (64%) of the 1,184 applications, followed by those in the USA (15%) and South Korea (10%).

Applications were most likely to relate to automatic document generation (145) and contract review (112).

Third place was shared by blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), both with 50 applications. They were followed by legal research (38), smart contracts (32) and neural networks (30). Seven of the patents related to e-discovery and two to mediation.

Researchers from Thomson Reuters, who studied data from the World Intellectual Property Organisation for the year ending 30 September 2022, said one of the patent applications involved a system that used AI to “score responses to legal arguments by their likely persuasiveness”.

Another product predicted the likely outcome and length of a claim a party intended to make and a third created a token “to signify an individual has power of attorney in a certain situation, significantly speeding up the completion of legal proceedings”.

There was also one that used integrated blockchain technology to enforce service-level agreements within contracts, reducing the risk of fraud.

Meanwhile, research for Leeds-based commercial law firm Walker Morris has found that 27% of general counsel and in-house lawyers describe digital transformation as “overwhelming”.

The biggest challenges were developing or securing the right skills (30%), “instilling an organisational culture of innovation and digital progression” (28%) and data security (27%).

Researchers from Censuswide surveyed 500 general counsel or in-house lawyers at companies with turnovers of over £100m for Digital adoption: The transformative power of in-house legal teams.

They found that 45% of lawyers were actively hiring legal staff to support digital transformation, while 36% knew that digital transformation was something they should do but did not know where to start.

Four in ten in-house lawyers (42%) said the cloud was the most relevant technology for their organisation’s digital transformation, with a third (33%) already using it.

The proportion of lawyers reporting that negotiating tech contracts was ‘a challenge’ ranged from 17% for the largest firms, with turnovers of £10bn or over, to 29% for companies with turnovers between £100m and £250m.

Sally Mewies, head of technology and digital at Walker Morris, commented: “Although technology moves fast, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Sometimes lawyers who don’t deal with technology contracts on a day-to-day basis can be left confused by the jargon.

“However, there is a lot of information available to assist in-house teams with their contracts and having an experienced project team alongside can be invaluable in terms of picking up on key risks and mitigations.”




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