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29 January 20213 minute read

Italian DLA Piper Intellectual Property & Technology Legal Predictions for 2021

The predictions we compiled last year did not take into account the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The future we imagined did not happen, and just a minority of the changes that we focused on reached a full development in the course of 2020.

Instead, the past year brought a rearrangement of priorities that affected most if not all the businesses and sectors.In a number of cases, this rearrangement translated into a real crisis,as happened in the travel and hospitality industry, in the sports and live show business and in many other sectors.

In other cases, the pandemic forced a major change of the business, whose size and overall revenues however did not decrease significantly. In those cases the crisis meant mainly that the operators had to evolve on the spot in order to accomodate new demands and requirements. The companies capable to react in this way managed to thrive, and possibly provided a lesson of resilience, an abused but significant word in those difficult times.

Whichever the effect of the pandemic in each specific business, there have been significant changes, so that any attempt to cast predictions required to chart an unknown territory. Hence the decision , for this year, not to rely only on our experience of business lawyers and legal advisors but to ask directly to the clients.We therefore made a survey, compiled by more than one hundred companies, both domestic and international, grouped by sectors. The questions were the same but the answers of each group of respondents provided slightly different pictures; more precisely, different pictures of the same object. If you put them side by side, the result could be compared to an abstract painting, with multiple prospectives and angles contributing to focus the attention on different particulars and features.Among them, and first of all, the uncertainty: in all sectors radical changes are under way and more are expected.

Then the innovation: most of the answers confirm that changes are going to be driven or caused by technical developments. The sign of these developments is the digital revolution, something no-one can ignore or resist to.

Another element emerging from the overall picture is the need to rearrange the relationship with business partners and clients, and the overall customer experience. Solutions developed in the past ere not valid anymore and need to be reimagined and reinvented in this age of digital disintermediation.

Zooming out from the picture it is also possible to see a relationship between the level of digitalization of each industry and sector and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, that affected more seriously the businesses whose digital travel was less advanced.

This is probably the most important lesson we learnt from the crisis: the digital revolution is not an option, is the way to secure our future.With this knowledge and the vaccine campaign already started in many Countries we now have the privilege to look again to the future and see how it can develop. Indeed, the very act of drafting predictions, based on actual data of living companies successfully adapting their business to grow despite the crisis is per se a relieving exercise and the confirmation that the future is back, and we are (again) ready for it.

The Intellectual Property & Technology Predictions for 2021 are available here.