Using a spreadsheet for Intellectual Property management is like keeping your company finances on a spreadsheet – sure, you can do it, and people do, but not if they want to be taken seriously.


If you’re an ambitious technology company, your patents and trademarks are worth a lot more than the assets your accounting system tracks. (And if they’re not, you should probably give up now and move on with your life.)

Yet we find time and again that businesess from the freshest startup to decades-old $100M+ global exporters, businesses who would never do their accounting in a spreadsheet, continue to manage their most valuable assets in one. So to help you understand why you’ll work faster, smarter and more effectively with purpose-built IP management software, we made the following table.

Spreadsheets IP management tools
Pre-configured for IP records. alertBut formatting spreadsheets is fun, isn’t it? acceptWorks perfectly for IP from the very first minute.
Automatically remind everyone what they need to work on. alertThat’s your job. acceptConfigure automatic email reminders about outstanding tasks.
Store ad hoc notes and memos. warningTiny ones only, because there’s only so much screen space. acceptUsually this is a strong point.
Keep a complete case history. alertTrying this in a spreadsheet gets really messy. acceptYes. See all the actions in the past, as well as those required in the future.
Keep an audit trail of changes. alertThere’s no way of telling who changed something, or when, or what it was before. acceptMany systems record a complete change history.
Drill down from a high level (family) to a detailed level (individual rights and actions). alertIf you’re an Excel guru you might think you can collapse rows using groups. But because the columns don’t change, it just doesn’t make sense to do it. acceptDrill down into families rights, and activities to find the notes and documents that relate to them.
Link to published documents online. alertPerhaps. Manually set these up if you like. acceptAutomatically links to publication numbers for many countries.
Save different reports for later. alertYou need to recreate them each time someone wants their monthly update. acceptSave views or reports for later. And typically share them with other users if you like.
Store documents. alertDocuments live outside the spreadsheet. acceptYes, store documents in your IP system you’ll always be reminded of useful documents relevant to the current context.
It’s free. acceptAt least, you’ve already paid for it. warningNot usually, but the Hawk IP Dashboard is free for small Portfolios and has a free trial.


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