Women in IP: How are they leading in their own different ways

Women need to shift from thinking ‘I am not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that and I’ll learn by doing it’- Sheryl Sandberg

When anyone said: “You can’t because you are a woman”. Didn’t that provoke you to prove them wrong and be the change? Me, you, each one of us, we all can be the change.

I’ll indulge you in a secret, I too dream of it. I too wish to know how it would actually feel to reach the pinnacle of excellence(being a woman). The thought that one day, maybe, I too will become a lady who can inspire others to break all the limits, becomes my driving force to work harder each day.

Being a part of the IP domain, something which keeps me and many other women motivated are the ladies who have worked so hard in this domain that the people around the globe look at them in awe.

This women’s day, why not pay gratitude to these women who kept us motivated all this while?

Here’s my way of doing it – I decided to write about all these prominent women who pursued their dreams and proved themselves in the IP domain. Women who showed it to the world, “I can do it because I am a woman.”

Let’s talk about these women who set an example for all the other pretty ladies, dreaming and daring to change the world.


Vicki A Barbur

Senior Director, IP and Technology Commercialisation, Battelle

I believe words would fall short for Vicki who is expert in both science and business. Being a PhD holder in physics, she motivates everyone to think out of the box with her way of formulating innovative research-based strategies for organizations. She also holds three U.S. and one European patent based on  Applying Novel Statistical Principles to Process Methodologies.

Being an example in herself she is widely published in peer-reviewed journals. During her 20 years of experience, she also contributed to the advancing economic development for her country by strategizing to make government investment in R&D accessible to sponsor organizations and the private sector.

Doesn’t this motivate you too?

Eeva Hakoranta

Senior Vice President And Head, IP, Nokia Technologies

Being the Head of Intellectual Property of a business with a patent value and brand licensing revenue of more than €1.6 billion(as of 2017) is a jaw-dropping achievement in itself. Eeva is one of the leading ladies in patent licensing with the skill of cross-functionality. According to IAM 300, “Working for many years at the intersection of business, intellectual property, and competitive law, Ms Hakoranta has closed hundreds of agreements, managed complex litigation and enforcement projects, and been deeply involved in defining terms for major transactions.” Truly a versatile person!

Having many attributes of perfection, she continues to be active in a number of positions of trust within professional organizations and groups in the fields of intellectual property and licensing.

Courtney Quish

Director at Fortress Investment Group

The face of Fortress Investment Group, Courtney is an experienced executive in the domain of IP and business. She is a very knowledgeable person when it comes to developing, protecting and enforcing the patents that drive technology innovation. Before Fortress, she proved her strategy building skills being the VP of Rovi Corporation, a TiVo Company.

Apart from this, she is also the co-founder of  Pocket Door, a company for home improvement which manages to provide the necessary things in a house by connecting users with the vendors. In her private practice of more than 10 years, she keeps up her extensive expertise in the IP domain.

Ceyda Maisami

Senior Patent Counsel And Patent Development Director, HP Inc

Following your interest and making it a career is a tough task. But Ceyda proved that with hard work and persistence, you can move mountains. She started freelancing at an early age while studying in law school. Keeping her optimism as high as possible she never stopped in her journey. Her hard work paid off over the years, as Ceyda is the Senior Patent Counsel of HP overseas currently. She manages the company’s commercial and consumer personal system products/technology solutions portfolios. Her continuous hard work gives inspirational moral to all the ladies out there.

Dori Johnson Hines

Partner, Finnegan

Dori Hines is known for her practice on patent litigation. Her experience involves a wide range of technologies which evidently shows how versatile she is. Having great leadership qualities she leads the firm’s Semiconductor, IC Working Group, electrical and computer technology practice group. Since the early years of her career, she was very consistent with activities like patent application drafting and worldwide prosecution that helped her achieve what she is today. Dori has also shared her knowledge with others, teaching several patent litigation workshops and courses, and lecturing on patent issues.


Johanna Dwyer

Chief Executive Officer, QipWorks

Johanna is a multifaceted intellectual property and technology strategy specialist with over 20 years’ experience in leading IP along with expertise in maths, science, and engineering. She established comprehensive programs for identification of valuable IP from portfolios of over 40,000 assets. Having established her name globally, she established a benchmark in the IP domain, by getting featured in IAM 300.

Not only this, she also proved her leadership qualities with her outstanding sense of business and judgment being the CEO of QipWorks. She is an inventor on 83 patent families, including 188 granted patents and over 400 pending patent applications worldwide. Along with technical expertise, she is also a very generous person as she announced the  “Johanna Dwyer Women in IP” Award to encourage and support women interested in pursuing a career in IP. We truly want more women like her.

Karen A Sinclair

IP Director, Harvard University

A young and innovative Biology student who followed her passion and chose her career in the IP domain. She kick-started her career as an IP counsel and worked diligently in directing a team of skilled attorneys and paralegals. Her zeal to achieve more took her to Harvard which was a breakthrough in her life’s journey. Leveraging her skills and knowledge there, she indulged in the development and tracking of Harvard’s patent portfolio including monitoring all patents legal expenses. She closely works with other board members and advises strategies to increase the value of  IP to facilitate commercialization with such a pace that it surprises everyone around.

Maria Varsellona

Maria Varsellona

President and Chief Legal Officer, Nokia Technologies

‘I decided to take the challenge at Nokia because I believe you really grow and learn when you take yourself out of your comfort zone,’ remarks Maria Varsellona, executive vice president (VP) and chief legal officer (CLO) of the technology company.  

Varsellona being a young, diligent and daring lady, chose the road less travelled and succeeded in getting promoted to the role of CLO of the whole Nokia group in May 2014 – just ten months after joining as an executive board member and general counsel (GC) of subsidiary business Nokia Solutions and Networks. From CLO to president, Maria has set a benchmark for all the in house officials out there.

Prior to joining Nokia Siemens Networks, Maria served as the General Counsel at TetraPak. Previously, Maria held senior legal positions in GE Oil & Gas for many years, with a specific focus on managing legal affairs for commercial operations and global services. It looks like a dream (Afterall, we are all responsible for building our own castles).

Sharon Lai

Patent Counsel, Volvo Cars

Sharon has extensive knowledge of IP and technology transactions. Highly versatile she counsels on a wide range of intellectual property issues, including those raised by M&A transactions, licensing, open source, invention harvesting and many more.

Sharon is multilingual being fluent in Taiwanese, Zharma, Tamacheq, Mandarin, French, and German. Apart from her linguistic abilities,  another feather in Sharon’s hat was her volunteering experience in the Peace Corps, where she formed the first women’s credit union and Scholarship program for a village in West Africa and later managed to collect funds for the hostel for volunteers. She is best known for her work for youth at-risk in obtaining necessary educational services, and access to resources.

Afzana Anwer

Senior IP Counsel, British Telecom

She grasps the essence of technology quickly and adds value to the work. With her capabilities, she can turn the tables upside down and can draw on a top class network. She has a 20-year career in all IP matters worldwide, on mixed contentious and non-contentious legal issues across all industry sectors, including technology, media and telecommunications, the Internet of things, food and beverages, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, batteries, energy, and renewables. Before this, Dr. Anwer held numerous positions in big companies and top law firms. She combined a solid business background with strong technical acumen to implement new technologies and enhance efficiency throughout the company. Her pragmatic approach positions her well for strategic IP decisions about a business.

We are all different, yet the same. Our souls are colored with different shades, yet the colorless is our favourite gradient. When we indulge beautifully in our own space, we leave an inspiration for others to stand along. In case they need more space to blend in, we leave some extra margins behind. Afterall, there can be nothing more fascinating than women adjusting to balance fellow women.


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