The Women in IP Committee of the AIPLA is pleased to announce Elizabeth Tassi as a Woman to Watch!

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The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.

We are pleased to introduce Elizabeth Tassi, in her own words:

Years working in IP: 13

Years with current organization: 13

Current location: Stinson LLP, Kansas City office

Current role: Partner in the Intellectual Property division

What I do:

I help clients turn trademark and copyright portfolios into assets. My sweet spot is international trademark portfolio management, and I have significant experience in trademark and copyright prosecution and enforcement. I am in regular communication with U.S. trademark and copyright examiners and a large network of trademark associates around the world.

Previous roles:

I started as a patent attorney and associate with the firm and gladly took on any task related to intellectual property. Since transitioning my practice to an alternative work schedule, I have narrowed my focus to trademark and copyright matters.

Years and involvement with AIPLA: six

What was the best professional decision you ever made?

After having my second child, I adopted a radical alternative work schedule. I am typically in the office two days and work remotely three days each week. This extreme flexibility is how I thrive as a lawyer mom.

What was the worst professional decision you ever made?

Every time I said yes to too many people and projects at once to appease my ego such that I physically could not do my best work. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson over and over before it sunk into my heart and mind.

What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?

In 2018, I hosted the Kansas City portion of the AIPLA Women in IP Global Networking Event, where I lead a panel discussion with three of my clients on how to pivot toward success. Because my relationship with each woman was strong and sincere, the conversation flowed and their honest commentary on their careers—highs and lows—resonated with the audience. For weeks after the event, members of the Kansas City IP community contacted me with comments on how that presentation made their day, filled their cups, and generally encouraged them to keep going.

In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers?

I once heard someone suggest that to be successful, you must wear blinders (like an elite racehorse). As women, I think we are accustomed to juggling many balls (projects, committees, calendars, roles, relationships, etc). Sometimes all of the opportunities, coupled with a poignant fear of missing out, are more distracting than anything else. If life has not forced you to do so already, take the time to examine whether your commitments align with your priorities. Then put on your blinders so you can focus on what matters most.

 What is the best advice you have received?

After several years of languishing in self-doubt, my dear mother-in-law told me, “You are enough, and you have what it takes. Now start acting like it.”

More about Elizabeth:

If they bottled my personality, the label would read:   Dedicated – Warning: Very stubborn

Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway:   I joined the Catholic Church in 2019; it was a tumultuous journey, but now I am home.

One thing people are surprised to find out about me:  I am a crack shot with a Henry Lever Action rifle.

 

The Women in IP Committee of the AIPLA is pleased to announce Allison Gaul as a Woman to Watch!

 

The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.

We are pleased to introduce Allison Gaul, in her own words:

Years working in IP: 9 years

Years with current organization: One

Current location: Kilpatrick, Townsend, and Stockton, LLP

Current role: Associate

What I do: My primary role is to support companies through all phases of patent asset procurement from FTO searches to ex parte appeals.

Previous roles: Patent Examiner, Patent Agent

Years and involvement with AIPLA: Eight. Three years as an observer and five years as an active participant.

Q. What was the best professional decision you ever made?
A. Becoming truly engaged with organizations within the IP community, enabling me to build a network of friends and colleagues that I carry with me regardless of my job, role, or location. It’s so very important to have people outside of your Employer that you can reach out to with questions about your career, your work, and ways to build your practice.

Q. What was the worst professional decision you ever made?
A. Not believing that as a young associate, I had the power to tell Partners when the work was too much, the hours too long, and that just because I was single and without children didn’t mean that I “had nothing better to do over the weekend.”

Q. What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?
A. Every time I set a goal and I accomplish it, that’s the best moment of my career. The legal profession is full of people who operate in a negative mindset and don’t hesitate to inflict it on others, making it particularly important for each of us to celebrate our own victories! If you don’t think you’re awesome, it’s hard to convince your colleagues and clients that you are!

Q. In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers?
A. Taking more time for self-care and personal development. It’s hard to be an advocate for yourself or others around you if you don’t have a good sense of where you want to go in your career, and the type of life you want to have along the way.

Q. What is the best advice you have received?
A. I met a Miss America Judge who told me “[y]ou could be the world’s best pear, but if the Judges are looking for oranges that day, then it doesn’t matter how good of a pear you are. Get out there and be the very best pear YOU can be, so that when the day comes that the Judges are looking for pears, you’ll be ready.” I’m pretty sure she was referencing the Miss America competition, but I think this is great career advice in general. Sometimes we aren’t picked, promoted, honored, or recognized for reasons outside our control. It’s important that we refuse to make those incidents about us and don’t base our self-worth or achievement. Use them as learning opportunities, keep improving, and one day you’ll be recognized as the world’s best pear.

More about Allison:

If they bottled my personality, the label would read: “Tenacious Lady: a whimsical and uplifting blend of vanilla and dark cherry backed by undertones of strong espresso.” I’m assuming it’s an alcoholic beverage..

Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway:
Practice yoga. Upon my original exposure to the practice, I thought it was just bizarre and very “new age.” Then a physical therapist ordered me to attend yoga class twice a week as part of a plan of recovery from a spinal fracture. Now I can teach yoga!

One thing people are surprised to find out about me:
In 2018 I become the world’s first patent attorney to win a beauty pageant title. I currently serve as International Ms. North Carolina 2019, for International Ms., an organization dedicated to promoting women entrepreneurs and career women.

The Women in IP Committee of the AIPLA is pleased to announce TONYA COMBS as a Woman to Watch!

The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.

 

We are pleased to introduce Tonya Combs, in her own words:

 Years working in IP:   14+ years.

Years with current organization:  17+ years

 Current location: Indianapolis, In.

Current role:  Vice-President and Deputy General Patent Counsel

 What I do:I counsel senior leaders at Eli Lilly and Company on IP strategy.  I also have the good fortune to lead a group of incredibly talented and experienced patent attorneys responsible for global patent procurement (drafting and prosecuting), maintenance, and aspects of enforcement for Lilly.  In addition, we assess the potential relevance of third party patents to determine their potential impact on Lilly’s development efforts and value in business due diligence.

Previous roles:  I started at Lilly as a chemical engineer in research and development where I had responsibility for optimizing processes for scale up production of clinical trial material.  I have had a number of positions in the law division, including roles in patent preparation and prosecution, patent litigation, brand attorney, trade secret protection and enforcement, general counsel for our oncology business, and others.

Years and involvement with AIPLA:  I have been involved in AIPLA in a variety of ways since 2012.  I previously participated on the Model Patent Jury Instructions Subcommittee (2015), and am currently a member of the  Patent Law Committee, among others.

Q:  What was the best professional decision you ever made?

A:  The best professional decision I ever made was applying to law school.  It opened an exciting new career path that marries scientific interest with cutting edge innovation.

 Q:  What was the worst professional decision you ever made?

A:  Underestimating my readiness to take on a new assignment.  Transitioning to a new role or area of law is its own skill set, and one that cannot be developed without experience.

 Q:  What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?

A:  I have had the opportunity to work on many complex and interesting projects, litigation, oppositions, etc.  The accomplishments I look back on most fondly are those enabling innovative new medicine to help patients, and those facilitating the development and growth of other practitioners.

 Q:  In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers?

A:  Don’t underestimate yourself; your colleagues aren’t!  Knowledge gaps equal growth opportunities. How fortunate that we endeavor to succeed in a career that allows us to learn constantly.  Let’s embrace that and lean forward into the next opportunity.

Q:  What is the best advice you have received?

A:  We’re shooting for excellence, not perfection.   This advice helps me keep prioritization top of mind and to beware the point of diminishing returns.

 More about Tonya:

If they bottled my personality, the label would read:

Contains: determination and realistic optimism.  Caution: contents turn gritty and persevere under pressure.

Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway:

I was always interested in a variety of science-focused careers, but never envisioned a career practicing law.

One thing people are surprised to find out about me:

I first became interested in patent law after being named the sole inventor on a patent application.

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The Women in IP Committee of the AIPLA is pleased to announce RICHA PANDEY as a Woman to Watch!

Richa Pandey

The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.

We are pleased to introduce Richa Pandey, in her own words:

Years working in IP: 16 years

Years with current organization: 5 years

Current location: Gurugram, India

Current role: Partner

What I do: I have been actively doing patent prosecution and have prosecuted hundreds of cases with favorable outcomes. Apart from that I have also done due diligence, patentability opinions and strategic counseling. Besides these, I have also successfully prosecuted several patent oppositions and litigations. Presently, I would say that my forte is portfolio management. As an individual, I have been a voluntary blood donor for years. I also employ my free time to work with spastic children.

Previous roles: My previous roles were mainly in patent prosecution & patent litigation.

Years and involvement with AIPLA: I was initially introduced to AIPLA in the year 2005. However, I have been a regular attendee of AIPLA for the past five years. I have organized and hosted the AIPLA Women in IP Global Networking event in India.

Q. What was the best professional decision you ever made?

A. The best professional decision was to pursue intellectual property as my career. It has been a very self-satisfying journey wherein I have been able to explore my expertise in both science and law. Furthermore, the pro bono work with a lot of students and institutions makes me feel that I have been an essential cog in the developmental wheel of technology.

Q. What was the worst professional decision you ever made?

A. The worst professional decision I made was to limit myself. In my given role, I was not challenged enough. I felt I wasn’t able to reach my full potential because of a real lack of challenge. At times one becomes complacent with one’s role and I did allow myself to persist in such a role, which was the worst professional decision I could have made.

Q. What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?

A. My greatest professional achievement has been the ability to carve out a niche for myself, transcending across boundaries of gender, nationalities, and different streams of intellectual property.

Q. In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers?

A. It is important that one should realize that we are professionals and each one of us have our own limitation and our own potential which is specific and special to our own persona and does not overlap with any other person. Recognizing the same will go a long way in actualization of our career goals.

Q. What is the best advice you have received?

A. The best advice I have received was “Don’t be a treetop flyer”.

More about Richa:

If they bottled my personality, the label would read:

A. “I am that.”

Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway:

A. I have always believed that one should walk away from situations that are irredeemable. However, I have been guilty of persisting when the best decision would have been to move forward.

One thing people are surprised to find out about me:

A. I am an Indian and am completely different from the stereotyped image of an Indian woman that they envisioned.

The Women in IP Committee of the AIPLA is pleased to announce MALGORZATA (GOSIA) KULCZYCKA as a Woman to Watch!

The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.

We are pleased to introduce Malgorzata (Gosia) Kulczycka, in her own words: 

Years working in IP:            14 years

Years with current organization:   11 years

Current location:   San Jose, California

Current role:  Partner and Patent Attorney in a law firm

What I do:  As an attorney, I counsel and advise clients, write and prosecute patent applications, and manage clients’ portfolios. I have drafted hundreds of patent applications and brought to the law firm many clients, including several tech companies and startups.  As a member of the Bay Area community in California, I am actively involved in the Polish community, the Polish American Engineers Club, the Polish Food Bank, and startup organizations.  I provide pro bono services to startup companies to help them to identify and harvest patentable ideas. I also prepare and deliver IP-related presentations on various forums, including conferences, seminars, and networking events.

Previous roles: I used to work as a manager and a computer scientist for General Motors Corporation in Michigan.  I developed a computer graphics system for the Virtual Reality (VR) Studio for the Design Center at General Motors. At the VR Studio, we were displaying 3D virtual animations of new designs of cars and trucks.  I learned a great deal about automotive designs, and supporting a company business.  These skills happen to be very helpful in my current career as an attorney.

Years and involvement with AIPLA:  14 years

Q.  What was the best professional decision you ever made?

A.  The best professional decision that I have ever made was going to law school and becoming a patent attorney. Prior to going to law school, I worked as a computer scientist and developed state-of-the-art VR software applications. The great experience as a computer scientist prepared me for even greater experience as a patent attorney. 

Q.  What was the worst professional decision you ever made?

A.  As I look back at my professional choices, I see that my career path has been what I wanted it to be.  I have tried different things, and I enjoyed all of them.  For example, after graduating with my Ph.D. degree in computer science, I made a surprising decision to enroll to the Academy of Fine Arts, and to become an artist. Studying the arts at the Academy was exciting: I learned how to paint, and I learned the history of arts. Nevertheless, a couple of years later, I returned to my computer science background, and became a computer graphics developer. That led me to coming up with my own inventions in the area of computer graphics.  That led me to patent law.  

Q.  What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?

A.  My greatest professional achievement thus far has been becoming a partner in an intellectual property law firm.  Along my journey to become a partner, I had bad and good days.  The bad days made me stronger.  The good days gave me encouragement and strength.   

Q.  In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers?

A.  In my opinion, to advance their careers, women should believe in themselves.  Even if others discourage us from reaching our goals, we should persist anyway.  It is important, though, to pick our goals wisely.  The goals may change from time to time.  But, action is always better than inaction.

Q.  What is the best advice you have received?

A.  A few years ago, someone told me “know what you want, find a way to get it, and do what you need to do to achieve what it is that you want.” 

 

More about Gosia:

If they bottled my personality, the label would read:

A.  “A Polish woman who is not afraid to get it all.” 

Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway:  

A.  A few years ago, I drove a car at 180 kilometers per hour on an autobahn in Germany.  I was scared, but I did it anyway. 

One thing people are surprised to find out about me:

A.  People are surprised to find out that, in my spare time, I play piano and I do some oil painting on canvas.

The Women in IP Committee of the AIPLA is pleased to announce RACHEL CARNAGGIO as a Woman to Watch!

The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.

We are pleased to introduce Rachel Carnaggio, in her own words:

Years working in IP: 12

Years with current organization: 4

Current location: Denver, Colorado

Current role: Senior Counsel

What I do: I prepare and prosecute patents and trademarks for individuals, start-ups, and large corporations. I have been actively involved in the Colorado BioScience Association for over a decade serving on multiple committees. I do pro bono patent preparation and prosecution for low income inventors in the USPTO ProBoPat and Mi Casa Resource Center program. I serve on the Board of Directors of Second Wind Fund, a Colorado non-profit organization that provides education, awareness, and treatment services to prevent suicide in children 19 and younger.

Previous roles: I worked as a research associate in molecular and cellular laboratories at University of Arizona, University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University and Denver Health Medical Center. I was an emergency medical technician in the Denver area. I practiced law as a litigator in Denver area law firms. I served as a guardian ad litem representing children in domestic violence cases for several years. I previously volunteered for seven seasons as a Girls on the Run coach with local elementary school students in a curriculum that included daily lesson plans on positive emotional, social, mental and physical development, and training for a 5K (while practicing law!).

Years and involvement with AIPLA: I have been involved with AIPLA since 2011. I am a member of the Biotechnology and Women in IP Committees. I have organized and hosted the AIPLA Women in IP Global Networking Event in Denver at the Rocky Mountain USPTO for the past two years.

  1. What was the best professional decision you ever made?
  2. After finishing a BS in Biology and a MS in Biotechnology, and spending nearly a decade in molecular and cellular medical laboratories as a research associate, I decided to go to law school. Many people think I switched careers but I combined my background in science and medicine with law. In fact, my coursework in my graduate program at Johns Hopkins University included patent law, legal aspects of biotechnology, and bioethics.  My work has included different legal aspects of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and life sciences, such as products liability and intellectual property. There are days when I miss being at the lab bench but overall being an attorney has been a better fit for me. I still contribute to the progression of science and medicine but in a different way. My job is very rewarding.

 

  1. What was the worst professional decision you ever made?
  2. When I graduated from law school, I took a job in an aggressive plaintiffs’ medical malpractice firm. I had a previous IP internship at Roche Colorado Corporation and a previous internship at an IP boutique firm but because of my medical background, I took the medical malpractice job. Unfortunately, I was exposed to an unhealthy work environment. Also, many of the physicians that I used to work for felt “betrayed” when I began working in medical malpractice, and, as a result, those relationships were strained. And, even when I saw red flags, I stayed too long with people who did not support my growth as an attorney or as a person. The job went against many of my ideals but I was naïve, had the burden of a large law school debt, and lacked the confidence to seek more for myself. If only I knew then what I know now. Fortunately, everything works out as it should. I am now wiser about choosing a healthy work environment and working with solid attorneys and inventors who are also really good people.

 

  1. What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?
  2.  My greatest professional achievement has been learning patent preparation and prosecution after practicing in general litigation. Undoubtedly, changing my career path from the research world to the legal world was challenging. However, deciding after spending committed years in litigation that I really wanted to be in patent preparation and prosecution took perseverance, a patent bar exam, hard work, and patience. It was challenging to take a few steps back in order to leap forward. And, I did it!

 

  1. In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers?
  2. In my opinion, women could be doing better to advance their careers by being their best cheerleader. More women are increasingly doing more to empower other women in law. This is very important. But, in my opinion, in order to advance their own careers, women should be doing more to promote themselves. I think some women worry about how self-promotion is perceived by others. Self-promotion may be uncomfortable but it is essential to be competitive in the legal world.

 

  1. What is the best advice you have received?
  2. The best advice I received was that you can have anything you want but you can’t have everything you want. As I strive to create work-life balance, I understand that I do not need to have everything in order to be happy. I’ll also add the second best advice I ever received- no one cares about you more than you in the workplace. This relates back to my “be your best cheerleader” advice. While it is advantageous and necessary to have good mentors, you must take responsibility for your own path and you cannot rely on others to get you to the finish line.

 More about Rachel:

If they bottled my personality, the label would read: Persevering, Conscientious, Adventurous, and Alc. 13% by Vol.

Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway: I never say never!

One thing people are surprised to find out about me: At 22 years old, I traveled 10 European countries, including Germany, Italy, Austria, Czech and Hungary, alone. I then traveled to three more European countries by the time I was 25 years old. I also lived in the Netherlands in the summer of 2002 while earning an Intellectual Property Law Certificate through the Tulane Center for European Union and Intellectual Property Law at the University of Amsterdam. I got to see part of the Slobodan Milošević war crimes trial at The Hague, which was amazing!

Woman to Watch

The Women in IP Committee of the AIPLA is pleased to announce COLLEEN TRACY JAMES as a Woman to Watch!

The Women to Watch Series was established by the Women in IP Committee as an avenue to recognize women within the AIPLA community for excellence and accomplishments. Through a peer-nomination process, the Women to Watch Series strives to honor women who have created their own paths, who lead through strong examples, and who are achieving successes as a result of their choices and leadership, but who may not be widely known in the AIPLA community.

We are pleased to introduce Colleen Tracy James, in her own words:

Year working in IP: More than 18 years ago, I began my career as a patent litigator.  My career has been challenging and engaging and I have loved every minute of it.  As an IP patent litigator I am afforded the pleasure of using my science degree every day.  I am a science geek at heart.

Years with current organization: A little over three years ago, I made the great decision to join Mayer Brown LLP, a global Firm that has many different practice areas and dynamic lawyers.

Current location:  I am a New York native and I practice out of Mayer Brown’s New York Office.

Current role: Partner at Mayer Brown LLP, specializing in patent litigation for Life Sciences pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

What I do:  I am a litigator and I love being in the courtroom defending the rights of my clients.  I believe in the life-saving products that my clients have made and in their rights to the patents that protect those products.  I enjoy working with the witnesses who testify to the hard work that goes into making life-changing drugs.  They are truly heroes in my book.

Previous roles: I previously was a partner at a prestigious IP boutique in NY where I was the firm’s first female Managing Partner .  In this role, I was able to bring several issues unique to women to the forefront.

Years and involvement with AIPLA:  I have been a member of AIPLA for nine years and I am presently the Chair of the Emerging Issues Committee.

What was the best professional decision you ever made? Accepting the challenge to first chair a major patent trial.  The trial involved a multi-billion dollar drug, and there was clearly a lot at stake.  This  decision catapulted my career to another level.

What was the worst professional decision you ever made? At the start of my career, listening to a senior partner’s advice on what style I should have as a trial lawyer instead of trusting my own instincts.

What would you consider your greatest professional achievement so far? Serving as lead trial counsel on behalf of the world’s largest innovators in the pharmaceutical field.  I am also very proud of the fact that I was the first female Managing Partner of my predecessor firm.

In your opinion, what could women be doing better to advance their careers? Take charge and do not let others define you.

What is the best advice you have received? Believe in yourself.  If you don’t believe that you are the best, why should anyone else?

More about Colleen:

If they bottled my personality, the label would read: Lightning in a Bottle.

Something I said I’d never do, but did anyway:  Move out of New York City to the suburbs.  But now I love that my 14-month-old daughter can play in our backyard.

One thing people are surprised to find out about me:  I am passionate about horses and compete in equestrian events.  I especially enjoy riding a course and jumping horses over obstacles–  I believe it’s a metaphor for life.

Twitter (@Mayer_Brown), Facebook and LinkedIn.

Colleen’s LinkedIn channel can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/colleentracyjames/.