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IP attorneys and legal staff at corporations are no strangers to innovation—they work with inventors every day.

But in recent years those working on intellectual property in legal departments have increasingly become innovators themselves. Amid a whirlwind of new technologies and strategies, IP’s legal leaders are looking to the future of the field.

On the sidelines of Wednesday’s IPForward Conference in San Francisco, a number of IP specialists who have worked at major legal departments spoke with the Recorder about their predictions for in-house IP.

Facebook Inc. patent attorney Gilbert Wong and Sophos’ senior IP paralegal Cheryl Wilder’s answers revolved around one word: data.

“The future of IP looks like the use of more analytic tools—using the data to inform decisions and being able to provide a tool set for our counsel so they can quickly get the information they need with the least amount of friction, and see all the data with push of a button,” Wong said.

Wilder said data’s allowing her legal department to better estimate the scope of future challenges and IP spend. They’ll also be using data to run an IP portfolio analysis and to be more proactive with issues such as confronting nonpracticing entities, also known as “patent trolls.”

“We’re definitely in an accelerated pace of technological change,” Wilder said.  “I think with the better awareness and knowledge that [our management software] IPFolio gives us, it allows us to maintain that pace. We can manage our costs better with better metrics, and we’ll be able to have a better budget and be proactive.”

John Schiffhauer, who was, until recently, vice president of IP at Intel Corp., said the future of IP is global. He’s seen a pendulum of IP action swing between the U.S. and MENA [the Middle East and North Africa], as well as China. For IP in-house leaders who want to stay ahead of the game, he says it’s important for lawyers to pay attention to where the action is happening.

“You’re seeing more actions outside the U.S., in China and MENA more generally, and you’ve seen corrections back in the U.S.,” he said. “Lawyers need to know what’s going on in order to stay on top of this.”