Before joining Yahoo! and, subsequently, Adobe, you were a partner in private practice. How did that experience better equip you for a role in-house?
Prior to Yahoo! and Adobe, I joined an existing solo practitioner and became a partner a year or so later. Being in private practice gave me a great deal of exposure to a variety of industries that all had different priorities and considerations when dealing with trademark issues. It was the depth of this exposure that I feel prepared me for dealing with the constant changes in a rapidly evolving marketplace.
In your current role you are deeply involved in the company’s global marketing efforts, which is a position many of your peers would envy. What are the most important lessons that you have learnt with respect to enhancing the relationship between legal and marketing professionals?
I think the biggest advantage of being embedded with the global marketing organisation at Adobe is having an intimate insight into the goals of the marketing team. By knowing what the marketing organisation is trying to achieve, I can prioritise my team’s work to better align with the overall goals of the client.
You have worked in fast-moving technology-focused sectors. Over the past year, AI has been a buzzword in the industry. What impact do you feel it will likely have on trademark and brand practice?
I believe that AI will be similar to the Internet and computer software, in that it will be a pervasive technology that touches all aspects of our lives. This will make for a very crowded field when you are attempting to choose new trademarks for products or product features. I think that the trademark industry is going to have to find a way to deal with deadwood marks on first-to-register trademark registries to alleviate trademark scarcity. In addition, I believe that AI will drastically change the way in which we search trademarks – making searching far more efficient and cost effective.
In 2017 you became the executive sponsor of the AdobeProud employee network group. As well as telling us a little about that role, how do you characterise the state of diversity in the trademark and brand space more generally, and is it changing?
As the executive sponsor, I work with the site leads in all our locations to ensure that our AdobeProud chapters worldwide have the resources to put on networking and social events so that LGBTQ+ employees have a support network to help them deal with issues specific to our community in the workplace and the world in general. I think that companies – especially Adobe – are very supportive of diversity. I am very comfortable being out at work and I have never felt mistreated by anyone at Adobe for my sexual orientation.
Finally, you previously served as INTA president. For those starting their careers in the corporate trademark world, how important to professional development is engagement and involvement with associations? How did it benefit you?
I think participation in industry-focused organisations is extremely important for any professional career. It is an excellent opportunity to build a strong network of professional contacts. It is also a fantastic chance to work on issues affecting the industry and build your marketable skill set. In trademark law, participation at INTA is a must. It is through my participation at INTA that I was invited to help draft the UDRP. I also found the opportunity at Yahoo! through connections that I have at INTA. Finally, my participation at INTA allowed me to get involved with cutting-edge issues that I found intellectually stimulating. This intellectual curiosity led me to develop an expertise that serves me well in my career.