Deborah A Hampton
Which aspects of your work do you enjoy most and why?
Most of my work today focuses on strategy and strategic planning. I function as the subject-matter expert, helping clients, departmental colleagues and cross-functional partners find solutions to problems, some simple and others complex. This sometimes requires thinking outside of the box, finding creative answers to move the ball forward. I absolutely love this part of my job! It is challenging, but when it works and you help solve problems, it is such a feeling of accomplishment to know that you are a part of the business’s success.
You are a strong advocate for the role that paralegals can play in trademark management. How can we all help to build a more collaborative profession?
Generally, the definition of the role of a ‘paralegal’ includes performing “specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible”. We all need to remember this — that we need to work collaboratively, both attorneys and non-attorneys, and be hyper-vigilant about not committing the unauthorised practice of law. With this thought in mind, we all can have satisfying and challenging careers.
The key is mentoring. From the start, I was determined to learn all aspects of trademark management and an attorney took the time to teach and mentor me. Not only did she personally train me but she also advocated on behalf of trademark administrators to attend INTA conferences and roundtables. Training is incredibly important because the long-term benefits for both employer and employee are enormous.
I paid it forward by participating in INTA’S Trademark Administrators Committee mentoring programme when it first began. Since then, the programme has undergone and continues to undergo changes to reflect current demand.
The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative Report recently released by INTA also points to mentoring as a best practice and recommends it as one of the action items to help bridge the gap for women in leadership positions in intellectual property.
When it comes to IP management, how do you determine where best to strengthen protection and where to make cuts?
Management of the brand requires that trademark strategy be aligned with the business’s strategic plan. It is imperative that we as IP managers periodically meet with our business partners to review existing registrations and determine whether additional coverage is needed.
Cross-functional partnerships are crucial because our work has an impact on business success. If we do not know what the business is doing and they do not know what their level of protection is, it can become a recipe for disaster.
What emerging trends do you expect to see shaping the global trademark landscape in the next five years?
New technologies will continue to emerge. With all the discussion that technology may replace jobs, the key is to get ahead of it. As practitioners, we should embrace technology so that we enhance our role and further demonstrate our value to an organisation.
Diversity, equity and inclusion will continue to be a focus around the world. As highlighted in the Women’s LeadershIP Report, women – including black, indigenous and women of colour – are underrepresented in the IP sector, particularly in leadership positions.
I hope organisations continue to act, including reviewing and implementing the best practices recommended in this report, such as creating a diversity and inclusion council, internal reporting requirements, coaching circles, and formal flexible working arrangements, to close this gap.
If the pandemic reinforced anything, it is that we must be agile and adapt to challenges, turning them into opportunities. As organisations and as individuals, we need to have that mindset.
You have over 35 years’ experience in the industry. How would you eventually like to be remembered for your work?
That I was catalyst for change, a person who made changes happen by inspiring and influencing others.
I have met amazing people from all over the world and created lifelong friendships and learned so much. I want to be remembered as one who encourages others to be the best they could be. That I always pay it forward. That I act as a connector of people who can help each whether it be attorney or non-attorney and move our profession forward. I do not take myself too seriously. I love and am passionate about my work and I want to have fun doing it.
Deborah A Hampton
Senior Trademark and Copyright Programme Manager
Deborah A Hampton is the senior trademark and copyright programme manager at The Chemours Company FC, LLC. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati and received an American Bar Associationapproved paralegal certificate from Adelphi University. She is responsible for managing the Chemours global trademark and copyright portfolio, focusing on strategy, enforcement and brand protection.