What is the biggest challenge you currently face in your career, and what actions are you taking to overcome this?
The biggest career challenge I face is the continuing need to bring value to companies in an ever-changing environment with conflicting priorities. We all experience this, regardless of whether we are a two-person pre-seed initiative, an emerging start-up, or an established company. The rate of change is increasing.
To face this challenge, I strive to keep a clear view of business, technology, the market and the competitive landscape. In addition, I continually assess the relevance and find creative uses for the available tools in the IP toolbox. An integrative approach is key as is implementing appropriate processes with a focus on breach prevention.
How do you manage expectations and maintain close working relationships with clients when the stakes are so high?
I think that our job can be thought of as a bundle of conversations, and we need to ensure that we are holding the right conversations with the right people at the right times. I have recently joined an emerging B2B tool developer as vice president of intellectual property, and provide IP management counselling to select clients. I structure my onboarding as a set of conversations. With respect to each client and each function, I ask myself how I can promote their interests in three capacities: as an executor, a facilitator or a decider.
I found that the distinction between ‘executor’ and ‘facilitator’ is effective in creating focus and clarity. This can be exemplified with respect to the potential use of third-party patent information. As executors, senior IP executives spend a lot of time on IP competitive analysis. The results of this are typically used to develop and validate IP plans and budget priorities. In contrast, as facilitators, IP experts at all levels can encourage business owners and R&D managers to access competitive IP information and read relevant patents. Using this approach, valuable insights can be used for strategic discussion, business development and R&D enhancement.
What emerging tech trends are having the biggest impact on your practice right now – and how can companies best position themselves to take advantage of these?
More and more products and services are multidisciplinary. This means that we need to speak with more people and align with more functions than we have done in the past. The legal deliverables are inevitably the outcome of extensive teamwork. As a result, legal practices are being streamlined. This attitude is supported by new legal-tech solutions and requires the development of new, updated patent and legal methodologies.
How do you expect that the focus on Big Pharma resulting from the race for covid-19 vaccines might change the space?
Collaboration between companies has been critical to addressing the pandemic. The corporate sector responded rapidly, with companies working together in development, supply-chain facilitation and manufacturing, while novel partnerships sprang up between organisations around the globe. It was best exemplified by the scramble for personal protective equipment and ventilator manufacturing in the early days of the crisis.
Covid-19 expedited the collaborative innovation trend induced by Industry 4.0 and the Big Data revolution. In turn, this change is shaping our profession. I believe that we, attorneys and counsel, should perceive our role primarily as agents of collaboration and facilitators of constructive communication.
You are known as a prominent speaker on patent strategy at IP conferences around the world, including several hosted by WIPO – what benefit do such events bring to the broader IP ecosystem?
In many companies in Israel, the IP department is a single person. A broader community for individual IP practitioners is critical for knowledge sharing, building expertise, and generally better informed practices.
During my tenure as chair of the Israel Patent Attorney Association, we established a working group for corporate patent attorneys, and we developed an advanced programme covering broad topics relevant to corporate patent attorneys, bringing IP managers and law firms together. We have created a community and promote peer learning and knowledge sharing.
In collaboration with the Israeli Patent Office, we offered a training platform for interns, with participants including interns at law firms, IP managers and examiners – all players in the ecosystem.
In each of these programmes, we share valuable insights that would otherwise be unavailable. I find that colleagues are eager to share their knowledge, and participants come with a learning mindset. I value the collective experience of the professional community.
Vice President, Intellectual Property
Einav Zilber is a passionate IP professional with extensive IP management experience, and chair of the Israel Patent Association. She recently joined Magnus Metal Ltd as vice president of intellectual property, and previously served as division counsel for Applied Materials Israel and India, and as a private practice patent attorney at a leading firm. Ms Zilber holds a BSc in physics and mathematics (Hebrew University) and an LLB (Tel Aviv University).