WhiteKnight Consulting specialises in transforming IP practices from overburdened paper-based offices to high-functioning paperless systems. The benefits to our clients have been dramatic: vastly increased productivity, enhanced client service, reduced resource pressures, and happier attorneys and staff. Patent and Trademark offices around the globe have also gone paperless, showing that dematerialising paper documents is the proven way forward in the IP business.
Going "paperless" means eliminating the vast amounts of paper-based dockets around your attorneys and staff, converting them into to a more reliable, accessible and efficient electronic system. Documents are scanned and images filed electronically. Systems established to scan incoming and outgoing paper based email as well as capture electronic mail directly.
With patents needing to be kept for 26 years, we all too commonly see overloaded file rooms and subsequently, files being sent to out-of-office storage sites. Not only does this make retrieving files very slow and cumbersome but expensive too. Storing files off-site takes time and effort with filing clerks having to manage the movement of these records, attorneys having to approve which files are acceptable for archive and the external storage company having to catalogue the records for a second time. All of this disappears with a Paperless Office solution, as all files – from active to archived – will be available instantly to you at your desk.
Instant, reliable access to files. Attorneys, paralegals, docketing staff and administrators benefit from having their files available at their computer screen instantly and reliably. No more waiting for files to be retrieved from a file room or off-site archives. No more problems locating borrowed or misfiled dockets or sharing files. No more difficulties searching for that perfect precedent. No more lost time checking dockets in and out, or accessing files out of hours.
Increased productivity. A Paperless Office system can also be a very powerful management information tool. It enables managers to quickly assess the size and activity of attorneys’ portfolios, and therefore make informed decisions about available resource or file transfers.
Electronic retrieval means quicker, more reliable access to files, and intelligent search capabilities. Attorneys and staff can therefore concentrate on the tasks at hand, rather than on physical storage and searching. For attorneys, the time and headaches saved accessing files will free up more time in the same working day to allocate to client billable hours. The result is increased productivity, improved client service and happier employees and practitioners.
A Paperless Office system also reduces the administrative load on your filing staff as there is no need to track where files are, and no checking in/out of files.
Enhanced client service. A Paperless Office system will also enhance your client service, for instance by allowing your attorneys to access their clients’ files whilst they are on the telephone or within seconds of reading their e-mails. This responsiveness to clients gives a much better impression of the firm and service that will keep clients coming back.
In addition, where security allows, clients can be given access to files allowing attorneys and clients to collaborate on work simultaneously.
Faster transfer and sharing of files. For firms or corporate divisions with multiple offices, cases can be transferred instantly to other offices without risk of loss in transportation. Rapid transfer of files can help manage workloads and increase caseload capacity, particularly beneficial where there is no capacity for an attorney to carry out the work in one office but there is spare capacity in another.
The Paperless Office system also facilitates simultaneous multi-office collaboration on case files – particularly useful when necessary expertise of attorneys may be in different offices, when patent applications are being filed in multiple countries by different offices or when litigation involves a number of jurisdictions.
Subject to security policies, attorneys will also be able to access their files from anywhere in the world, including at client’s offices.
Financial savings. With high rental rates for space in capital cities around the world, the financial savings on physical space that is made available by scanning documents can often justify an investment in Paperless Office. In some cases the savings can be substantial if this negates the expense of an office move or reorganisation.
Public reporting requirements. A Paperless Office system also facilitates improved organisation and tracking of vital corporate-management information. In particular, US-centric corporate IP divisions are able to more efficiently contribute to their companies’ public disclosure and reporting requirements, under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and others.
A Paperless Office solution does not have to be implemented all on once. The level of benefit and automation can chosen to fit the needs of the business, from a standalone system to one that is fully integrated with other software applications.
The simplest Paperless Office system can be accessed from a software application on your desktop computer alongside your Microsoft Word / Outlook or WordPerfect, or through a web browser. This provides a great deal of benefit in a short timescale.
To provide the maximum amount of automation, the Paperless Office system can be integrated with other IP systems, achieving even greater efficiencies for your business, including:
Docketing. Integrate your Paperless Office with your docketing system so that attorneys can be reminded of an action and at the click of a link, be taken to the file.
Paper mail delivered by e-mail. In a similar way to fax messages being received by e-mail, incoming paper mail can be scanned and delivered directly to your desktop. Depending on how your business processes operate, this can arrive before or after being docketed.
Single-site web-based access. Simplify the number of software applications by integrating your Paperless Office system with your other software applications, and access everything from one web-based single point.
Collaboration. Collaborate more efficiently with clients and colleagues in other offices by accessing the same electronic file room. Save on travel time and improve efficiency. Enhance communication with inventors in different locations through web based virtual meeting rooms, sharing access to certain files and allowing for more efficient review and communication.
Enhanced searching. Intelligent searching of words from the scanned documents can help with opinions, infringement / non-infringement analysis or past precedents. The key to unlocking this is the use of software with Optical Character Recognition (OCR). When documents are scanned into your electronic file room system, this technology analyses and converts the images of your documents into text to facilitate searching. Combined with intelligent search engines, this can be an exceptionally powerful tool. This also allows attorneys to copy text from scanned images and paste them into current documents, reusing information saving time and money.
Combined storage. Store scanned images of final / signed documents together with the electronic file from which they were created. The associated electronic file can be used later as a precedent or for reference. Conventional storage systems keep paper-based signed copies in one place and electronic versions in others.
The speed of transition from paper to paperless can be as gradual or as rapid as you like. Once the Paperless Office system is in place, you can choose to convert only new cases into paperless format, or you can reap the full benefits by scanning and storing all your existing paper files in your new electronic file room.
We can help you to develop a document conversion strategy that best suits your needs, the appetite of your organisation and the people within it.
For more information about Paperless Office system for your organisation, please contact us today.