Maureen Shannon

What is your greatest professional achievement to date?

Building global brands from inception is immensely challenging and rewarding. Each brand I have launched has a unique product suite and consumer sector, which require a custom approach to holistically protect the company and consumer community. To design each plan, it is important to become intimately familiar with the business operation, goals and budget to tailor each approach within the context of unique concerns, such as consumer health and safety, regulatory and privacy protection, geographies and manufacturing footprints. I enjoy the depth and breadth of each challenge that results in valuable brand protection programmes.

Another aspect of my work that I am most proud of is my keen ability to integrate with the business teams I advise. I am accessible and connect with people by translating complex legal concepts into actionable intel, which enables the business to make smart decisions at the speed of the game.

What first attracted you to working with brands in-house, and what advice do you have for anyone considering a similar move?

Intentionality about goals aligned with personal values is the key to finding the right fit in any role. From my first summer associate role onward, I knew I wanted to be at the centre of the action, advising businesses on protecting innovations. To get there, I leveraged my law firm roles to gain valuable experience counselling famous brands. My litigation experience, in particular, provided key translatable skills, - persuasive speaking and writing - that are the building blocks for the success that I enjoy in-house.

Once I had the fundamental knowledge and skills in place, I focused on finding in-house roles aligned with my personal values: solving problems for consumers and doing good for the planet. I leveraged my skills that I developed as outside counsel to become a trusted partner to the business in-house.

As Rivian Automotive’s first trademark counsel, you helped the company’s IP team expand beyond its home jurisdiction of the United States, filing trademarks in Europe and Asia. What are three lessons this expansion taught you?

First, build strong partnerships with global counsel. Counsel are our first line of defence with trademark offices and trusted allies when faced with enforcement activity. They are our local experts who help us to assess the chances of success, enabling us to better manage budgets and brand battles. Launching a global brand is like chess – there are unique moves for each region, and our partners help provide valuable insight to keep the brands secure.

Second, manage expectations with business partners about timelines and build time for a legal review into processes. Limit surprises by conducting availability searches and consider brand transliterations in important markets.

Last, communicate often with business partners about portfolio progress. When enforcement challenges inevitably arise, you will be able to rely on the trust you have already built to advise business partners on how we should engage.

Beginning in 2019, Rivian and Amazon committed to co-developing a new type of delivery vehicle that would significantly reduce carbon emissions in the future. How does this partnership align with Rivian’s brand-building efforts?

Rivian is helping to solve how we shift our planet’s energy and transportation systems away from fossil fuels. We know that extraordinary steps must be taken to stop the carbonisation of our atmosphere, and the partnership with Amazon allows us to expand our goal to do good for the planet on the commercial level as well as with consumers.

In your view, what makes a strong trademark team, and how do you go about building one?

Trademark teams are often small in number with broad responsibilities, orchestrating a high volume of fast-paced work. The world of innovation moves as fast as the spark of inspiration. As an orchestrator and dot-connector, I need to be flexible to support this pace and plan ahead. I build processes creating self-service checklists and contract templates, empowering partners to minimise risk while moving fast. I educate partners on risk pitfalls, enabling the team to produce high-calibre product launches that often occur in a compressed timeframe. In addition to providing daily support to business partners, I acknowledge team efforts, which helps build strong relationships and is a key to team-building success. It is also important to approach problems and mistakes as learning opportunities. Innovation requires experimentation; while not every experiment delivers the desired result, it always provides the opportunity to learn.

Maureen Shannon

Associate General Counsel
[email protected]

Maureen Shannon is the global lead for trademarks at Rivian. Prior to this role, she led a fintech in-house IP team and has counselled a wide range of clients in the technology and automotive industries, including advising on investments, acquisitions and real estate purchases. She has managed major M&A transactions, technology portfolio acquisitions and counselled start-ups. Ms Shannon develops innovative strategies to protect company assets and draws on her broad experience to provide a 360 degree view of risks to advise businesses.

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