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International Women’s Leadership Forum - Overview

9 December, 2014 – The Fairmont San Jose, California


The International Women's Leadership Forum moved to San Jose, California in December 2014 after a successful launch in New York earlier in the year. There was an overwhelming response to the forum, with over 220 female IP practitioners coming together to join their peers in reviewing the current IP landscape and the importance of women in leadership and legal roles.

The forum focused on IP developments in the US and globally and provided an opportunity for women in IP to hear from thought leaders on subjects such as litigation, licensing, patent protection, copyright and trade marks.

Delegates also examined best practice and innovation around leadership, networking and business development while featuring leading general and IP counsel who shared their thoughts and insights with the audience.

Unlike many events that are aimed at only at the most senior lawyers, this event welcomed associates, senior associates and partners in private practice, and legal counsel, senior legal counsel and general counsel on the in-house side. It was a development opportunity for the next generation of women leaders with the aim of providing an inclusive debate around building the talent pipeline as well as discussing the latest developments in IP.

Key takeaways

Litigation and technology trends

  • Recent legislation and case law represents a fight-back against the explosion in litigation filed by non-practising entities.
  • Companies are more attuned than ever to litigation costs, and are exploring alternative fee arrangements with outside counsel.

Licensing trends

  • Determining what both sides need from a licensing deal is key. The tone of negotiations can set the tone of the subsequent working relationship, so be prepared to work cooperatively with the other side and be prepared to get on the telephone quickly to iron out difficulties.

Dealing with non-practicing entities

  • Fee shifting would help those companies dealing with NPEs, but many plaintiff lawyers dislike the concept and are lobbying hard against such policies.
  • Transparency measures that would help litigants understand the real parties in interest does not have to come from legislation: industry can and should do more to improve litigation transparency.

Current topics in life sciences litigation

  • “The ruling in Myriad has had a ripple effect – some might say a Tsunami – in the life sciences sector” (Michelle Rhyu, partner, Cooley).
  • Interest in gene patenting has gone mainstream, with more attention on DNA patenting and the growth of diagnostic kits.

How to protect and avoid pitfalls relating to Copyrights, Trademarks, Advertising and Rights of Publicity

  • The UK has introduced a range of copyright exceptions, including a parody exception.
  • Pick your battles when dealing with online infringement: some savvy businesses may use your cease and desist letter as a marketing tool.
  • Pay attention to infringement that takes place within apps, as well as more traditional websites.

Keynote address: Chief Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte, Northern District of California

  • Women trial lawyers need to be confident and assertive and learn to project their voices more effectively but should avoid being bombastic or aggressive in court.
  • Those in leadership can do more to effect changes for women in the profession, including more family-friendly policies, including job sharing and part-time working to help anyone with caring responsibilities.

PTAB litigation

  • PTAB is taking a harder line on petitioners. You need to stitch your case together tightly and don’t rely on PTAB doing it for you.
  • It is worth considering arranging for a transcript of all PTAB hearings: if things are looking bad for your case, it can be useful to have.

Patent reform in Europe

  • Patent reform is happening: the Unified Patent Court and the unitary patent are coming. You need to start preparing now.
  • The cost the unitary patents will be a big factor in the take up of them.
  • In-house counsel need to consider the likelihood of permanent injunctions, bifurcation and how the new EU system is likely to differ from that in the US.

Canada: a round up of legislative changes

  • The new law on trade marks marks some improvements. One recent headline read: “Bill C8: better than nothing”.

The importance of leadership in developing your career

  • There is no such thing as a silly question. Often not knowing an answer gives you an advantage: you might need to ask other people and gain their insights.
  • Look for a personal board of directors, rather than just one mentor: seek out a group of people who can informally guide you in different areas.
  • You need to balance being cooperative with learning how to say no to avoid burn-out.
  • Reach out to junior associates and ask them how the company or firm is working for them. Help them to prepare for the next step in their career.



Cooley Dentons


King & Spalding     
Withers & Rogers

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