Exploring career opportunities in intellectual property

BY ROBERT ’54

While attending my 50th reunion at HLS last spring, two specific thoughts occurred to me. One concerned the passion for excellence instilled in me by my somewhat daunting law school experience, but nevertheless something for which I am indebted to the school. The other is that, while at HLS, I had no serious focus about a career path that fits my aptitudes.

It was my good fortune to stumble on technology licensing a few years following graduation. This discipline, which requires knowledge of U.S. and foreign law, entrepreneurship and negotiating skill, has fulfilled my ambitions and provided the framework for a fascinating career. I therefore suggested to Dean Kagan that my experiences, and those of a few of my peers, could provide useful insights to the Harvard community, especially since there is new emphasis on IP. This joint program with the Licensing Executives Society is the result.

The time and place of the meeting are:Wednesday, March 2, 20057:30-9:30 p.m. (and longer if helpful)Austin North – Harvard Law School

I have been an active member of LES since 1967, when it was in its third year, with 60 members, all in the U.S. The Society has since grown to over 11,000 members with productive chapters in every commercially significant area of the world. Each of the people I approached to appear on this program enthusiastically agreed to participate – a typical LES reaction. These panelists are:

Alan H. Gordon, an active IP lawyer, who has been a partner in two patent law firms and now heads his own practice in Houston. He is also a marvelous teacher.

Dennis Unkovic, a senior partner of a 60 person Pittsburgh law firm and author of several publications on foreign technology related transactions. He annually spends several months abroad, principally in Asia.

Lita Nelsen, Director of the Technology Licensing Office at M.I.T. She has greatly expanded their program and also participates in the M.I.T. incubator program for start-up technology based companies.

Ada Nielsen, Manager of Commercial Development of BP Chemicals, is involved in setting strategies for negotiations and energy policies. She and Dr. Nelsen will also comment about the growing importance of women in the licensing field.

Robert Goldscheider, Chairman of The International Licensing Network, a firm of technology management consultants. He is the author of several books and treatises on the law and business of licensing and has broadened his focus from strictly legal issues to include commercial, financial and cultural factors in negotiations.

In addition, D. Patrick O’Reilley, President of LES (USA & Canada) is hoping to attend and Dean Kagan has been invited to observe and participate.

The invited attendees are the student body and faculty of the law school, as well as interested persons at the Business School, Engineering School and the Science Faculties. In addition, all LES members in the Boston area, who number over 400 professionals, are being invited. It is expected that there will be lively interchanges, perhaps resulting in valuable contacts.

This is an experimental initiative with several objectives. It could familiarize students with a variety of career opportunities in the IP field. If the response is positive, it is planned to organize a student chapter of LES at Harvard, which can provide access to practicing professionals.

In addition, this meeting can be a model for similar exposures to other areas of specialized legal practice, e.g. tax, litigation, wills and estates, bankruptcy, real property, etc., each of which could be conducted on an annual basis.

Anyone seeking further information should contact Erica George at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. (617) 495-7513.

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