What has been your most memorable case to date and why?
When I was a mid-level lawyer, I was involved in a series of cases regarding extended wear ophthalmic technology. Many elements made these cases memorable: the impact of this technology; working with an international team of inventors; working with commercial teams; taking part in litigations in multiple jurisdictions; and learning the craft from amazing litigators from around the world.
This enabled me to see the law from multiple angles. It became an international game of chess involving some of the most sophisticated, skilled and wise participants I had ever met. Further, everyone on both sides was highly professional and respectful.
Another positive element of this experience is that I also worked on the commercial side of the technology. I gained another perspective and developed a new skillset.
This exceptional experience and the mentoring I received provided a strong foundation upon which I have built further learning, leading to successful results for clients in other fields of technology – either commercially or in the litigation context. Learning and development continue in the form of professional competency, as well as with soft skills which I consider important for a lawyer: effective advocacy for the client, focusing on what makes (often multidisciplinary) teams work, listening skills, project management, and always keeping an even keel – no matter which direction the wind is blowing in.
Has your experience working in the rapidly evolving science and technology space taught you any lessons about how to prepare your own firm for the future?
I have had the privilege of working with science and technology for the entirety of my career, and have generally kept an eye out for the next significant shift. Developments and improvements in technology (eg, wifi, storage, security, capacity, matter management, video and audio communications), along with the legal recognition of electronic files, have allowed for a paperless working environment and facilitated remote communications. Having aimed for a paperless office since the 2000s, I am very pleased with this shift – it saves trees and space and enables remote teamwork.
As for preparations for the future, I welcome any tips regarding technology that consumes less power and is easily chargeable, using solar power as a direct power source.
How do you build trust and understanding with clients to ensure that they make the most informed IP decisions?
Trust is hard won and easily lost. Our practice is built on the trusted adviser model. This is core to how we work with our clientele and one another.
We regularly engage with our clients to identify where we are performing effectively – and where there is room for improvement. At the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, we took time to refine online working practices, so that a total online environment was kept targeted, simple and adapted to their needs.
We value open and honest discussions both within our team and with our clients – all feedback is welcomed.
Building trust and understanding with clients is not just about how we work. It is also about staying up to date with the law, excelling in advocacy, keeping informed of our clients’ business objectives and ensuring that we deliver excellence.
If you could change one thing about the patent regime in Germany, what would it be, and do you think that it is likely to happen?
There was an extensive review of the German Patent Act from 2019 to 2021, which resulted in a number of amendments. It is too soon to assess the impact of these amendments – it is better to let the dust settle.
As we hopefully emerge from the pandemic, what changes to the industry and/or working practice do you think are here to stay?
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Elisabeth Opie opened a boutique law firm focusing on international technology in Munich, Germany, in 2014. With over 20 years’ international experience in innovation ecosystems, she specialises in dealing with technology across various sectors. Practice areas cover international trade law, technology transfer and commercialisation (including structuring and negotiation strategies), competition law and dispute resolution. Standardised technology is a particular focus. Ms Opie is registered with the Rechtsanwaltskammer München and practises German, English and Australian law.