Today’s issue of The Times carries an article exposing the charging practices of IP renewal services provider CPA Global that make it not only the world’s biggest payer of IP renewals but also by far the most expensive. The report, based largely on information provided by former CPA Global executives, highlights the inflated cost to innovative businesses of maintaining their IP rights.
What stands out for me is that the CPA Global response to The Times does not deny any of the allegations. Instead, it simply says, in so many words, ‘our contract terms allow us to invoice what we like, and our customers are told in advance what the charges will be so they can go elsewhere if they don’t like it’.
I was recently asked by a client, with a relatively small portfolio, to seek quotes from other leading suppliers to compare with estimated charges received from CPA Global for some upcoming renewals. Supplier per renewal service charges were as follows:
CPA Global: US$200
Supplier A: US$35
Supplier B: US$10
However, after deduction of the per renewal service charges, the remaining charges were:
CPA Global: US$ 22,556
Supplier A: US$ 12,215
Supplier B: US$ 12,024
The difference is stark. These charges are for what should be disbursements, the Official Fees and other expenses incurred, and not a source of additional profit over and above the service fee for carrying out the renewal.
Why don’t IP owners move their renewals away from CPA Global?
The answer for many businesses, from the largest to the smallest, is that they have no idea how much more they are paying as they have trusted the world’s largest provider to charge fairly.
Many have also trusted their patent attorneys and law firms who have referred them to CPA Global as part of a standing arrangement from which they receive referral fees; CPA Global boasts relationships with some 3,500 firms around the world.
Some major IP owners, those with in-house IP departments, have discovered how much more they have been paying and have done their own deals with CPA Global or moved their business elsewhere. One major international business, I have been informed, saw its charges reduced by about 40% when it moved to another provider. Unfortunately, those businesses have also kept quiet and not taken steps to ensure that the wider market was made aware of the problem so as to prevent continued harm to smaller businesses ill-equipped to protect themselves from such costs.
Customer Coordination Group
For CPA Global IP renewal services customers, past and present.
The time has come to create a channel through which information may be shared, common interests discussed and, as appropriate, coordinated action taken by CPA Global customers. I have set up a LinkedIn Group that past and present CPA Global customers can apply to join. Here is a link to the joining page: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8673746
Group activities can include:
- Selection of, and negotiation with, lawyers and litigation funders
- Making representations to regulators and Government bodies
- Direct negotiation with CPA Global