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What is a Docketing System?

Alt Legal Team | January 19, 2024
6 min read

This article was originally published on November 24, 2021. It was republished with updates on January 19, 2024.

What is a docketing system?

A docketing system is a type of software used to schedule, calendar, and track deadlines in legal proceedings. It can be used to track cases in litigation or to ensure you meet other important legal deadlines. Before the advent of software, legal professionals used handwritten calendars or diaries to docket their matters. Computerized docketing helps legal professionals manage due dates on all of their matters in an organized, efficient, and accurate way.

What is legal docketing? What is IP docketing?

Legal docketing is the umbrella term used to describe the process of tracking deadlines related to legal work. This can involve docketing deadlines related to court or other dispute proceedings, administrative proceedings, and/or negotiations and settlements.

What is IP docketing? IP docketing is the process of tracking deadlines related to the prosecution of trademarks, copyrights, and patents before their respective governing offices. Trademark and patent filings, registrations, and oppositions include numerous deadlines. These deadlines can be as soon as 90 days from receipt of a particular notification or can span the course of 10 years or longer. Because trademark and patent filings have so many deadlines to track, it is important for IP professionals to have a reliable IP docketing system to monitor deadlines. Learn about what IP docketing specialists and trademark docketing specialists do.

What is an IP management system?

IP management systems or software track the deadlines and statuses relating to trademark, patent, copyright, domains, and other types of IP matters like Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) proceedings and domain names. IP management systems are often used by companies that own all of these different types of IP and require a solution for tracking matters in a single system as matters are so closely related and dependent on one another. IP management systems also store information relating to licenses, contracts, and other agreements having to do with IP matters. For example, you may want to link these matters together in your IP management software. In Alt Legal, many customers will docket a license agreement and docket trademark filings, and then link them together through the Related Matters feature so that they can readily see that the particular trademark is subject to an underlying license agreement. Learn more about IP management systems.

Additionally, IP management systems can be used to track litigation and dispute deadlines related to IP matters. Having a single system that tracks trademark, patent, copyright and other IP matter types allows a company or law firm to maintain a centralized repository of information, statuses, and deadlines relating to IP matters. The difference between an IP management system and a docketing system is that IP management systems are designed to provide a birds eye view of IP matters. IP management systems help users to track the lifecycle of a company’s IP, namely matters that are filed and/or registered, in dispute, and others that are in product development. In contrast, docketing systems allow users to focus specifically on upcoming deadlines related to IP matters pending before IP offices.

Why is docketing important?

Docketing allows legal professionals to keep track of important dates for filing and responding to various actions. This ensures efficient workflow, delegation of tasks, and time management.

Docketing is particularly important in IP matters, where missing deadlines can result in expensive fees to recover actions. In a worst-case scenario, missing deadlines can result in abandonment of a mark and ultimately, a loss of client rights. Read more about the true costs of missing IP deadlines here.

What are the different types of docketing software?

Docketing software takes many different forms and has evolved significantly with advances in technology.

Calendars – For some attorneys with very few IP matters, docketing using a simple calendar may be adequate. However, all data must be entered manually, all dates must be calculated, and reminders must be set. Calendars, particularly those attached to email providers, offer no fields in which to enter IP-specific information such as mark name, owner, serial number, or international class. This makes it difficult to find specific information.

Manual Docketing Software – Attorneys who are juggling any more than a few IP matters benefit from a docketing system to monitor their dockets. Traditional legal docketing software was built to track litigation filings. IP docketing software offers more features and tools that are relevant to attorneys practicing before the USPTO, the US Copyright Office, and global IP offices. The most basic type of IP docketing software allows attorneys to manually enter IP matters into a system, set reminders at timed intervals, and generate reports with particular information sets. This type of docketing software is far more useful to IP professionals than a basic calendar or docketing system built for litigators. However, manual inputting of data is time-consuming and prone to error.

Automated Docketing Software – Attorneys who are looking for docketing software that helps them save time and eliminate risks due to human error choose automated IP docketing software. These systems provide different levels of automation; some systems retrieve basic mark information from some IP offices while others calculate deadlines automatically so that users don’t have to set them manually. For example, Alt Legal’s automated trademark docketing software will automatically add your USPTO trademark filings, update statuses, and most importantly, docket and remove deadlines based on USPTO updates. In Canada, Alt Legal’s CIPO database connection retrieves all trademark data, deadlines, and status updates. In all other jurisdictions, Alt Legal’s third-party data partnership automatically retrieves data from 180+ global IP offices and create renewal and use deadlines when foreign trademarks are registered and renewed.

What additional features are available with IP docketing software?

Attorneys who rely on high-tech IP docketing software to monitor their trademarks benefit from advanced features to stay organized, prepare custom reports, communicate with clients and colleagues, and initiate filings.

Automated Document Storage – IP matters require many filings and contain numerous attachments in the form of specimens, drawings, and other documentation. Having an organized system for storing these documents is essential to a smooth and efficient workflow. Alt Legal automatically collects documents such as applications, office actions, drawings and registration certificates, and stores these items within the docketing system. This makes it easy to check the status of a mark and quickly access relevant documents. Additionally, Alt Legal allows users to upload their own documents and provides a platform for keeping detailed notes about conversations with clients, colleagues, and co-counsel.

Reporting Tools – Even the most basic docketing systems have built-in tools for creating reports to distribute work or to keep clients and colleagues informed. But having the ability to easily create custom reports for different purposes allows attorneys to quickly gather and share information and communicate with clients. Alt Legal’s powerful reporting allows users to create custom reports with just a few clicks, download directly to Excel, and email internally or externally.

Communication Tools – Only the most comprehensive and technologically advanced docketing systems offer the ability to communicate with clients and colleagues. Alt Legal has powerful communication capabilities, setting it apart from other docketing software. Alt Legal allows users to send pre-populated emails or letters to inform clients and colleagues about the status of their filings. Additionally, Alt Legal users can grant clients and colleagues read-only access to see their trademark filings.

Client Intake Forms – The most tech-savvy docketing software auto-generates client intake forms, making trademark registrations faster and easier than ever before. Alt Legal generates custom, branded intake forms and questionnaires, allowing IP professionals to easily collect information about an application. Simply send the intake form to a client or colleague and receive notification once it has been completed. Next, users can make any edits and once finalized, Alt Legal’s unique integration transfers the data directly to the TEAS application without the need to retype or copy-and-paste anything.

What is the best IP docketing software?

The best IP docketing software gives IP professionals a powerful tool to monitor their portfolios with accuracy and ease, store documents and other relevant information, easily create custom reports, communicate with clients and colleagues, and initiate trademark filings. The software should also be easy to use and have a modern, intuitive interface.

Customer service is another important component of what makes the best IP docketing software. It’s important to select a docketing software company that includes free and unlimited customer support. Look for customer support that is available in your time zone and in formats that you find useful, including email, phone and live chat.

Lastly, and most importantly, the best IP docketing software should be well-priced. The primary purpose of IP docketing software is to help IP professionals monitor deadlines and create an efficient workflow, ultimately maximizing firm profits. Ensure that the software that you are selecting comes with the features you need and that you’re not being nickel-and-dimed for every additional feature, resulting in a far more expensive system than you originally thought that you were considering. Learn about how different IP docketing software vendors price their software.

If you’re in the process of selecting IP docketing software, take a look at our checklist to help you identify what features you should consider.


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