How to Migrate to Your New Trademark Docketing System
Alt Legal Team | March 30, 2020
The thought of migrating to a new trademark docketing software is enough to send even the most experienced trademark professionals running and screaming. After all, it’s historically been a painful and expensive process to take your data from one IP docketing system to another.
Despite this longstanding sentiment, the majority of Alt Legal’s docketing customers are thrilled with Alt Legal’s onboarding and migration because we make it free and easy. After completing over 1000 migrations, we’ve learned a few tricks to make migration successful and even enjoyable for our customers, so we thought we’d share these.
The key to successful migration is to communicate, both internally and externally. You will need to communicate with your team members, interested parties with whom you collaborate, and especially the support and success teams at your new trademark docketing software company. You will want to have open communications about the process, the timing, and potential pitfalls in the IP filing data or the migration process itself. When you’re considering signing up for a docketing platform, you will also want to ask about potential costs. Unlike Alt Legal, the vast majority of docketing service providers charge extra to migrate your trademarks, patents, disputes, contacts, and everything else into their IP docketing system. These migration fees can range from nominal to prohibitively expensive in some cases. (Note: this exists on the other end, too: some docketing software companies charge to export your data out of their docketing system!)
With all this in mind, how can you make your trademark and patent migration seamless?
Ask lots of questions. Be sure you understand how different data points are stored in your new IP docketing system. For example, your new trademark docketing software might use different terms for your data. For example, what you call an application number, they might call a serial number, so be sure you know what is going into each field.
Share your standard docketing exports in advance. If you share docketing reports before your migration, vendors can make sure they appropriately map and migrate data to support these reports. Additionally, each vendor organizes data differently, and it’s possible that they don’t let you search for a specific data point, so you might need to store that data in a different place to be able to access it.
Engage your internal stakeholders. Don’t forget your internal stakeholders: often, the folks making the purchase decision are different from the ones who use it! Be sure to ask everyone who is affected by the docketing about their workflows and discuss how the new system would address them.
Once you’ve communicated with all those affected about how the change in IP docketing software will impact them, the next step is to ORGANIZE AND COLLECT YOUR DATA. Whether your current trademark and patent data is housed in an Excel spreadsheet, a local database, or in your provider’s online database, the state of your current data will ultimately dictate the end result. No docketing system is perfect, and if you aren’t confident about your data in your old system, the new one you migrate to is likely to inherit the bad data. You’ll first want to know what data your new docketing system will enter automatically and how much will be generated based on the prior IP docketing system. Additionally, understanding how that old data will be represented is important and can have consequences.
Clean your data. Like moving homes or offices, this is an ideal time to clean up your data as much as possible. For example, review your records to determine which trademarks have been abandoned, which clients are no longer represented by the firm, and which colleagues have left but remain assigned to matters.
Segment your data. Moving your entire docketing system at once can be daunting. Many of our customers find it helpful to segment their data and migrate in phrases. You could do all of your trademarks at once and then all of your patents, or even apply a more granular approach like USPTO trademarks, foreign trademarks, USPTO patents, and foreign patents.
Lastly, PROVIDE YOUR DATA. You’ll need to give your new trademark docketing system files that they can actually use to get your data from your old system to your shiny new docketing solution. This may be as simple as a well formatted Excel spreadsheet, or it could be a complicated system of database files on USB keys sent by carrier pigeon. Be sure to ask how complicated the migration will be and what will be needed. If the new docketing software says they want it a certain way, try to follow their instructions to the letter, or you risk data being altered or missing between your old and new trademark docketing software. Even if your new vendor is good, you don’t want to rely on a third-party to interpret your data.