Varying activity levels and a healthy number of firms who are active in the market has resulted in a intellectual property legal service market that is competitive but not cutthroat.
Pricing for each firm appears to be driven as much by the firm class or type than market conditions with specialist IP firms and larger law firms benchmarking themselves against similar product offering rather than the market as a whole.
Victoria’s IP lawyers aren’t cheap with the overwhelming majority listing a rack rate of between $600-$700 per hour. That’s roughly in line with rates seen in other states and, as such given the quality on offer at all levels of the Victorian IP legal market presents good value.
Some 14%of survey respondents listed a rack rate over $700 per hour and, anecdotally these higher rates are generally offered by larger national and international law firms.
Finally the smaller/boutique soft IP/copyright focused firms who populate the Victorian market continue to present good value as they typically price themselves in the $300-$400 per hour bracket.
Victorian’s intellectual property lawyers noted a widespread use (85%) of alternative pricing albeit and perhaps predictably, the move away from hourly rates was typically confined to non-contentious matters. A number of firms indicated the use of stage based costing in contentious matters and variations on such that attempted to keep an check on the costs of large scale litigation, particularly in relation to patent matters.
31% of firms also noted the use of a retainer arrangement as a pricing model. While this figure is somewhat higher than in other practices areas given the regularity of firms to charge a fixed annual fee for IP management services this is understandable.