Carmela De Luca, a Partner at Bereskin & Parr LLP, lets The Industry Leaders know what it’s like being a registered patent agent at the forefront of exciting new technologies whilst educating new entrepreneurs on protecting their intellectual property.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I always loved science. In high school, I took a law class and found 'arguing a case' exhilarating. After completing a PhD, I was still thinking about Law but took an opportunity to postdoc with a great scientist at an Amgen Institute. I was still thinking about law and decided to try an experiment. I went to law school and continued with my postdoc. If it went well, I would have left the lab. If it went poorly, I would have continued with my postdoc and pretend law school never happened.
It went very well, and here I am, a partner at an Intellectual Property law firm.
What kind of work does your role involve?
My role involves a lot of writing, reading and advising as well as teaching - I work with companies, entrepreneurs and universities to protect their inventions. This involves assessing whether an invention is patentable, drafting and obtaining patents, and managing patent portfolios in various countries. I also advise on the IP provisions of contracts and IP policies. I am very involved in training our associates and staff and also work with various organisations to increase IP literacy among entrepreneurs. More recently, I have become active in the management of my firm
What gets you excited about your industry?
Entrepreneurs and cutting edge technologies! These people are so passionate about their work and what they are trying to accomplish. Talking with inventors and seeing in real-time the development of new and important technologies is always very exciting.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
You can do it!
What's the best way to support aspiring leaders in your field?
I’ve had the privilege of meeting many very talented and bright young people. Through the Greater Montreal Chapter of Women In Bio, I was involved in establishing a chapter several years ago, our Young Women In Bio program, in which I chair and do some work with start-up incubators.
Likewise, I am involved in inspiring young people to discover STEM, as well as professional support, connect and encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and other professionals wanting careers in the life sciences industry. I have also taught patent courses and mentored several individuals through internal mentorship programs at our firm.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Blogs, industry newsletters, and lots of webinars. Talking to people is my favourite way.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Canadian patent agent licensing exams are four notoriously difficult, with a very low pass rate. Two weeks before my exams, we decided to put our house up for sale, which meant constant cleaning and frequent interruptions to view the house.
The day before my first exam, we had an open house and entered negotiations with the potential purchaser sitting in their car in front of our home. We sold up, and somehow I managed to pass the exams.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
After sharing some with family and several charitable organisations I support, I would have a series of gigantic parties somewhere wonderful, inviting family, friends and colleagues, reaching out to the many people in my life that have in some way, big or small, helped and supported me.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
A glass of red, sharp cheese and a conversation with my partner, a good friend or some comedic commentary from the likes of John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Bill Maher or Stephen Colbert.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
Increased patent office efficiency, particularly in countries where it can take five to ten years before your patent application is even looked at.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and The Munk Debates.
How should people connect with you?
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