Patent Law

Legal technology patents have increased 484% globally in last 5 years

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In the past five years, there has been a 484 percent increase in legal technology patents globally, according to new numbers from Thomson Reuters.

“Technological innovation across the financial and professional services industries has grown rapidly over the last few years, and the legal sector is investing to stay ahead of the curve,” said Charlotte Rushton, managing director of U.S. Large and Midsize Law Firms for Thomson Reuters, in a statement.

Citing data from the World Intellectual Property Foundation, Thomson Reuters found 579 patents relating to legal service technologies filed in 2016, up from 99 in 2012. Thirty-eight percent of the 2016 patents were filed in the U.S., 34 percent were filed in China, and 15 percent were filed in South Korea.

Thomson Reuters reasons that the patent-filing boom is being driven by law firms in the U.S., United Kingdom and East Asia outsourcing their work, as well as by global competition and regulatory changes allowing for unconventional business models. Specifically, the media company points to the Legal Services Act in the UK, which allows lawyers and nonlawyers the ability to form businesses together.

“Law firms expanding into sectors such as management consultancy are being exposed to new practices and implementing technology changes as a result,” added Rushton in the press release.

The Thomson Reuters analysis did not show what types of products were being patented or which areas of law were the most affected.

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