This year World IP Day is centered around “Women and IP: Accelerating innovation and creativity.” As a woman leading the global Intellectual Property Practice at Hogan Lovells, what does this focus mean to you?
Focusing World IP Day on women highlights why diversity in IP (and really, everywhere) is so important. Intellectual Property is at the heart of what our clients do and is at the center of every industry we touch. Without question, diversity makes all of us better – more advanced; more open to change and different ways of doing things; more creative; and leads us to ideas, actions, and innovations that can impact a business, a sector, or even the world.
My background, unique point-of-view, and the experiences that have shaped me into who I am today very much influence my leadership style, which is centered around being open, facing change head-on, and raising-up voices and ideas to help prepare us for the future. We need more women, and more diversity, across IP. Being a part of this movement means a lot to me.
Intellectual property massively influences where businesses, markets, and sectors will go in the future. What are some trends you are focused on right now?
IP law and technologies are constantly changing and adapting. There are so many areas we’re following across sectors. A few areas that are certainly a focus right now include:
The Unified Patent Court (UPC). This hits close to home for me as a patent litigator based in Germany and as the practice leader of a global patent litigation powerhouse. We are known for handling major patent disputes across Europe. We see this as the biggest change in European patent law since the adoption of the European Patent Convention more than 45 years ago. Aside from the application of patent protection, the UPC will not only have jurisdiction in invalidity and infringement proceedings for unitary patents, but will also be the sole competent court in relation to European patents after the transitional period.
We are working with patent proprietors, licensors, licensees, sellers or purchasers of technology, plaintiffs or defendants to familiarize themselves with the new system as soon as possible and consider how to adapt patent portfolios and prepare for litigation.
Intellectual property implications within the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). I’m not sure how many businesses have this on their agenda right now, but it is certainly an area we are following closely at Hogan Lovells across our life sciences sector and specifically within our IP practice. The IRA could massively influence the IP function in the pharma/biotech space – everything from strategies for investments in IP/innovation, license agreement strategies, patent prosecution considerations, what rights to prioritize (and not), litigation strategies, and more.
ESG. This is on every corporate’s agenda. It is certainly on ours as well. When it comes to ESG and IP, there are a few ways we’re actively influencing change here. For example, when it comes to safeguarding new “green” technologies and other inventions, the focus is often on protecting the technical innovation by applying for patents and utility models in the green tech or “clean tech” space. We’re seeing prioritization of such “green patents” is reflected in fast track programs for the filing of green patents, which were launched by various patent offices around the globe in the last decade.
We’re also helping businesses cooperate with and invest in smaller companies and start-ups to develop “green” alternatives to existing products and service portfolios. In addition, venture capital money is, again, invested in clean tech start-ups on a large scale. These venture capital investments especially focus on smaller companies that develop specialized products providing solutions for specific issues in the context of alternative energies, energy storage and saving, electric mobility and sustainable packaging, to name just a few.
As the world becomes more digital, and more industries pivot towards digitally-driven business models, what do you think are the implications for IP?
This is certainly a big question. Simply put, businesses cannot be afraid of change, and in fact, need to be as far ahead of the change as possible to stay ahead of the competition. Disruptors across sectors are constantly introducing new ways of doing business and transforming existing ways of working. A few areas that need to be top-of-mind include knowing how to protect and monetize your data; understanding the power of your IP portfolio from a business and wider market perspective; vigorously evaluating your business’ IP needs across in-licensing and out-licensing; and identifying, managing, and protecting your trade secrets.
As we celebrate World IP Day, can you share some notable examples of how IP rights have positively impacted society and encouraged innovation?
There are so many examples of how IP rights have made positive – and massive – impacts on society and encouraged change. Just think about how everyone around the world has a tiny computer in their pocket or backpack. This IP has fundamentally changed society and really launched a new generation of tech. It is remarkable. This question also makes me think about how challenging situations drive innovation and expedite the development of new IP. I often think about how “need” is the mother of invention. One example that comes to mind is what the world faced during Covid-19, which led to the development of vaccines, and as a result new IP. I am constantly amazed by what we create and what inventions are introduced into the world, and I am honored to work in a space where I am seeing change happen before my eyes.
Authored by Miriam Gundt.