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How to get Involved with the AIPLA Women in IP Law Committee

Please see below to find out how you can become more involved in the Women in IP Law activities. We welcome new volunteers and members. The email addresses of the contact person(s) responsible for each activity are listed in the description below. Please contact them if you would like to participate!

Women in IP Global Networking Events
The annual AIPLA Women in IP Global Networking Event is a meeting of women located around the globe who practice IP law and/or regularly face IP issues in the ordinary course of business. In this regard, numerous sub-events are concurrently held in various geographic locations by law firms, corporations, and universities. These events may include seated dinners, cocktail parties, passed hors d’hoeuvres, talks on topics of interests or other types of gathering. During the event, the individual locations are joined together via a teleconference and/or video conference.
How can I get involved?
The 2015 AIPLA Women in IP Global Networking Event is being held on Thursday, May 21, 2015. If you would like to host an event, contact the Networking Event Co-Chairs Carol Thorstad-Forsyth ( and Yelena Morozova ( for further information. If you would like to attend an event in your area, be sure to include the Women in IP Law Committee in your committee membership selections to receive an invitation prior to the 2015 events.

Women in IP Lean In Circle
AIPLA’s Women in IP Law Committee joined the emerging Lean In community by launching its own Lean In Circle in January 2014. Lean In provides a forum for peers to learn about and discuss a range of fascinating topics related to empowering women in the workplace.
How can I get involved?
If you would like to join the over 100 members, both men and women, who participate in monthly discussions, contact Jessica Ergmann ( to become a member of our circle.

Social Media
The Women in IP Law Committee has an active presence in the Social Media world. The committee provides multiple social media avenues for committee members to share information and interact, to allow each individual the opportunity to communication and participate using the tool she is most comfortable with.
How can I get involved?
Join one or more of our social media groups including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Committee blog and Committee microsite. If you would like to help with updating and maintaining our various social media groups including locating and disseminating information that would be of interest to Women in IP Law members, join our sub-committee by contacting Debora Plehn-Dujowich (social media lead; or Arlene Neal (Communications and Electronic Outreach Subcommittee chair;

Advancement and Retention Subcommittee
The advancement and retention subcommittee advocates for the committee’s members with many activities including producing a White Paper on the challenges for women in the innovative ecosystem and IP profession, liaising with headquarters on the 2014 Membership Survey including refining the gender based questions and creating a database of the gender based responses, and working with a college engineering mentoring program.
How can I get involved?
If you would like to contribute to the information gathering, analysis, and communication projects underway, the advancement and retention subcommittee is looking to expand its membership. Please contact Meg Boulware ( and Melissa Buss (, the subcommittee co-chairs.

The Women in IP Law Committee produces a newsletter that is published twice a year to all Women in IP Law Committee membership and is also available on AIPLA Women in IP Law Committee micro site. The newsletters typically include a letter from chair, subcommittee happenings, featured professional articles, member spotlight, book review, news and notes.
How can I get involved?
If you would like to write or edit an article and/or help with planning, organizing, and proof-reading the Women in IP Law newsletter, please contact Sonsy P. Rajan (newsletter lead; or Arlene Neal (Communications and Electronic Outreach Subcommittee chair;

The Women in IP Law Committee organizes and holds webinars for its members and for the AIPLA membership in general, free of charge, focused on work/life balance and professional growth.
How can I get involved?
If you have an applicable topic in mind that would be of interest to the Women in IP Law Committee membership, and/or would like to help with planning, coordinating, moderating, or sponsoring a webinar by the Women in IP Law Committee, please contact the Yelena Morozova (webinar lead; or Arlene Neal (Communications and Electronic Outreach Subcommittee chair;


AIPLA Women in IP Law Networking Event Video

Please see the video above that was shown during the 2014 AIPLA Women in IP Law Networking Event.

Race for the Cure

The Women in IP group in Rome, Italy, participated in the Race for the Cure! Please see the video above.

Lawyer Turned Thespian

By Jessica Ergmann, Dräger – IP Counsel, North America

Have you ever struggled with effectively conveying a message to a client? Well, power-point is typically less than stimulating, hence the phrase “death by power-point.” So, I have an idea for you. Become a thespian and put on a show.

It is not uncommon for an IP team, whether it be an in-house IP department or law firm, to encounter a lack of understanding or even resistance to a legal principle when working with a client. I will provide you with an example. We ask our clients to perform a patentability search prior to beginning a new R&D project, however prior to searching, we ask our clients to complete a short one-page form to ensure the searching, results, and analysis are protected under Attorney-Client Privilege. The response to our request- “You lawyers are ridiculous, I have to get permission to patent search?” So to teach our clients the principle of Attorney-Client Privilege, my IP team and I engaged in a court room drama. (Please keep in mind, the following is purely fictitious, and scripted so as to effectively, perhaps excessively, illustrate a point.)

Allow me to set the scene: Engineer was assigned to a new R&D project, so before expending countless R&D resources, he performed a patent search to evaluate the patentability of the new concept. In doing so, he stumbled upon US Patent ‘666, owned by Competitor, Inc., that he determined to be relevant to an existing product owned, manufactured and sold by his company. Engineer proceeded to promptly and prudently email his Manager the patent and his astute and thoroughly investigated legal conclusion of the product’s infringement of Competitor’s US Patent ‘666. Now, turn the clock ahead three years. Competitor files a complaint against Accused Company in the Eastern District of Texas (go ahead, pick any division), seeking damages for infringement of US Patent ‘666.

Fast forward another three years later (past discovery, including answering 43 Interrogatories, 78 Requests for Production, numerous hours in deposition, numerous unsuccessful settlement discussions, and gobs of money in attorney’s fees) to trial. Engineer is on the stand, the Texas Eastern District Court Judge presiding, and Competitor Counsel’s grueling examination begins.

First, the poking and prodding into every detail of Engineer’s past. (Our client is aghast at the intrusiveness of the questions and the repeated overruling of Defense Counsel’s relevance objections.) “Where did you attend pre-school?” “Did you make good grades?” “Did you have a dog as a child?” And on, and on, and on….

And then comes the credibility attack. Digging into Engineer’s past to find one iota of wrongdoing, a mere discrepancy on a job application, and inflating it in front of the jury as though he had committed murder. In every attempt to explain himself, Engineer was harshly quieted by Plaintiff’s Counsel and the Judge. He continued to elaborate on his answers, and Judge got really enthusiastic, went off script, and threatened him with a night in a “cold, dark cell.” (I am not sure if Engineer was genuinely scared, or confused because Judge went off script and caused him to lose his lines.) Anyway, Plaintiff’s Counsel continued attacking his credibility, while he had to sit there, tormented, answering in the form of “Yes” or “No” only.

And now for the smoking gun. The email sent from Engineer to Manager regarding Competitor’s Patent ‘666. As Plaintiff’s Counsel introduces the email into evidence: “Objection, your honor – This is a privileged communication.” Of course, I knew the email was not protected under Attorney-Client Privilege, however in my effort to demonstrate this principle to the audience, I objected. (Surely, our client thought, this cannot come into evidence, for Engineer sought legal advice from In-House Counsel after he emailed Manager.) Ah-ha! After you say, sorry, too late. OVERRULED. The email comes in.

“Engineer, please read Exhibit P0525 aloud to the jury.” Engineer squirms, and apprehensively reads the email, “Hi Manager, I was doing some patent searching and I came across a patent from Competitor, Inc. The patent number is 6,666,666, and as far as I can tell our product infringes the patent.”

Stick a fork in the Defense, we are done. Oh, and liable for treble damages too.

I attempted to rehabilitate Engineer, picking up the pieces of his integrity off of the floor and putting them back together, trying to showing the jury that he is a genuinely good guy who had one minor indiscretion in his youth. And look at all of the charity work he does!

I also attempted to show the jury that Engineer did not understand what the legal claim of infringement required, after all, he had a professional degree in computer science, not a J.D., and, get this jury, his determination was based upon the specification, not the claims. Yeah, like they give a rat’s you know what.

After the bloodbath ended, the point we emphasized to our client, was that even with my valiant attempt to rehabilitate the witness, all the jury sees is a guy who went to Columbia, surely a genius who knows how to read a patent. Oh yeah, and a big liar.

Accused Company was found to infringe Competitor’s US Patent ‘666, and damages totaled $30 million. Oh yes, and because we knew about the patent and proceeded to manufacture and sell our infringing product despite this knowledge, we are liable for a whopping $150 million. Why? – the client asks. Willful infringement = Treble Damages. “Ahhh” says the client as the light bulb makes its debut, “That Attorney-Client Privilege sounds important – Maybe we should fill out that damn form before performing a search next time.”

I would like to mention Dewayne Hughes, Senior IP Counsel Dräger, North America. This mock examination was his excellent idea, and it was a huge success with our R&D group. We effectively conveyed our message, and had fun doing it. Because they have a full understanding of why procedures are in place, they are willing, even encouraged to practice them. Dewayne has become a mentor to me, and I look forward to continuing to learn from him every day. Thank you.

The 2013 AIPLA Annual Meeting, A Rookie’s Perspective

By Jessica Ergmann, Dräger – IP Counsel, North America

I arrived at the AIPLA Annual Meeting in a red dress in a sea of black suits. That is one way to stand out amongst 2200 IP professionals. Another way to stand out is purely biological – being a woman. Women currently make up 14% of the patent roster. Annette Kahler, Attorney at Heslin, Rothenberg, Farley & Mesiti P.C., presented this fascinating statistic, among many others, at the highlight of the week, the Women in IP Breakfast.

The Women in IP Breakfast. Yes, it’s at 6:45am, and yes, you may have had a few too many tastings of scotch the night before. (I must admit, I did find it a tad evil that the breakfast begins approximately four hours after the scotch tasting ends, but as most did, I sucked it up and put on the suit – yes, a black suit.) Let me tell you, it was worth it. Not only were there many powerful, inspiring women in attendance, I was pleasantly surprised to see the men well represented too. As one woman comically pointed out, and I paraphrase: “Over the years, the attendance of men has grown – They want to know what we are up to. They want to know what we are talking about.” She was dead on, but not only that, men want to help women grow. Men want to work with us. Men want our perspective and insight. Let me give you an example: A man by the name of Anthony Greene attended the breakfast, and he made a statement that made everyone pause, and then applause. Mr. Greene stood up and stated, “Women are judged by their performance. Men are judged by their potential.” I had to meet Mr. Greene, so I made it a point to find him later that day and tell him how much I enjoyed his comments and perspective. We have already been in touch via email, and there is no doubt we will maintain contact. That is precisely what this event is all about – Education, Inspiration and Mentorship.

Regardless of gender, I was warmly welcomed by many AIPLA members as a new member and first time Annual Conference attendee. However, there are a few women I would like to specially thank for their overwhelmingly warm welcome to AIPLA, and those women are Naomi Voegtli, Mercedes Meyer, Georgann Grunebach, and Debora Plehn-Dujowich. These women each took me under their wing, welcomed me to AIPLA, introduced me to some wonderful people, and I am very grateful. Thank you.

Oh, and I must add, my two favorite presentations – both given by women. The first was covering the topic of patent trolls, presented by Felicia Boyd, Attorney at Barnes and Thornburg, LLP. She was educational, conversational, multi-toned (trust me, this was appreciated more than you can imagine), and most notably, engaging. The second woman, Annette Kahler, presented at the Women in IP breakfast referred to above.

Admittedly, it was a bit unnerving to attend the conference for the first time. I wondered – Who am I going to meet? Will I have people to talk to? Well, let me tell you, by the end of the first day, it was like walking the halls of your high school.

The seminars, panels, luncheons with presentations by major leaguers in the field of IP (oh you know, just Teresa Rae, Deputy Director of the USPTO, and Chief Judge Randall Radar, Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit), the receptions, and the black tie event, topped with dessert and finished with a night of dancing. Who said IP attorneys aren’t any fun?

Photos from the Women in IP Law Networking Event in New York City

The NYC location for the 2013 Women in IP Law Cross Country Networking Event was sponsored by Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, along with Goldstein Patent Law. Despite a severe thunderstorm that afternoon, approximately 50 people came to the offices of Robins Kaplan in the Citicorp building for a lively event that featured amazing food, great conversation, and even book giveaways. AIPLA President Jeff Lewis attended in NYC, and spoke on the teleconference – giving his views about the continuing importance of the Women in IP Law Committee.

To see photos from the event please click HERE.