Five minutes with ... Jörg Thomaier, head of IP at Bayer
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Five minutes with ... Jörg Thomaier, head of IP at Bayer

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Each week Managing IP speaks to a different IP lawyer about their life and career

Welcome to the latest instalment of Managing IP’s new series, ‘Five minutes with’, where we learn more about IP lawyers on a personal as well as a professional level. This time we have Jörg Thomaier, head of IP at Bayer.

Someone asks you at a party what you do for a living. What do you say?

That’s a difficult one – “Making sure that research is sustainable and worth the endeavour to fight hunger and diseases”. My son, when he was little and we drove to the Bayer facility during winter when a lot of steam was visible, said: “Daddy is making hot air”. It's kind of true when your tools are words …

Talk us through a typical working day.

Get up, screen through emails that arrived during the night, have first calls with Asia if needed, a couple of meetings on substance, litigation strategy, IP advocacy and the like. Do some paperwork - IP-related but also financial and HR matters. Keep up with incoming emails - delegate, delete, put on 'to-do list'. Try and sneak in a break for sports. Close the day with some interaction cross-Atlantic to cover time-zone gaps.

What are you working on at the moment?

Mainly IP litigation - defence and enforcement of our products, and strategy for the department.

Does one big piece of work usually take priority or are you juggling multiple things?

It's always a mixture of multiple things to juggle and the challenge is to prioritise them.

What is the most exciting aspect of your role and what is the most stressful?

I love working with people and developing talent. Making your numbers, especially in difficult times, is certainly the most stressful. Both of these aspects are not what you are trained for as an IP person. However, in a leadership role, it's what makes the difference between a leader and 'just' an expert - which we all are in our fields.

Tell us the key characteristics that make a successful IP lawyer.

Deep scientific and technological understanding. Strategic thinking and being business-minded. Knowing the law and the ability to communicate complex matters in a simple way to business partners, judges and juries.

What is the most common misconception about IP?

That it represents an obstacle to innovation. It is to the contrary, as IP is an important enabler of innovation. There won’t be innovation if people are not able to benefit from their ideas.

What or who inspires you?

Wow, that's difficult. Inspiration is a high threshold. I admire exceptional athletes and great thinkers in science. My wife and kids always are, and have been, a source of thinking, reflection and calibration.

If you weren’t an IP lawyer, what would you be doing?

I would be a scientist, like I was before I went into IP, either in STEM or a true nerd all day with a computer.

Any advice you would give your younger self?

Do it again this way but carve out more time for your kids when they are young.

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