Small Law Lawyer Spotlight
Jennifer Sander BASc, JD practices in the area of Intellectual Property (IP) law and is a Registered Canadian Patent Agent and a Registered Canadian Trademark Agent. Jennifer has over 10 years of experience in the field of IP and is focused on providing personalized IP services that align with each client’s needs, whether they are an individual, small business or a large company. Currently a contributor to Practical Guidance in the area of Trademarks, she is also a member of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC) Continuing Professional Development Committee and an Editorial Board member of the Canadian IP Review (CIPR). Prior to founding Sander Law in 2017, she practised IP law at Gowling WLG, a full-service international law firm and also at Ridout & Maybee LLP, an IP boutique.
We asked Jennifer about her background, practice, and the challenges she faces.
1. How did you decide to work in IP law?
"My first exposure to IP was as a Patent Examiner at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) in Gatineau, Quebec. Then during law school, I attended an international IP law program at St. Peter’s College in Oxford, England where I completed comparative European, U.S. and Canadian law courses in the areas of Trademarks, Copyright, Patents and Information Technologies. This experience solidified my interest in IP and my decision to practice in this area of law."
2. Without asking you to speculate too much, do you anticipate any big changes to your area of practice in the next 5-10 years?
"Canadian IP law has already undergone major changes in the last few years to harmonize it with international IP treaties. With more businesses providing products and services online, especially now due to COVID-19, it is crucial for businesses to distinguish their brand from competitors. In this challenging global market, protecting a brand with a trademark registration is essential to grow your business and deter copycats.
Another area of change in IP is related to artificial intelligence (AI). It is not particularly clear whether AI-generated art or inventions can or should be protected under existing IP protection laws that were originally constructed with the view of a human creator or inventor, or whether a new regime is needed for AI-generated content."
3. What advice would you have for somebody looking to expand their practice into IP law?
"I recommend learning about all areas of Intellectual Property - trademarks, patents, copyright and industrial design - as they intersect with each other and you need to understand IP protection from all angles. For example, more than one form of IP may be used to protect a single product.
Also, in order to gain the required experience to write the Canadian Patent Agent and Trademark Agent exams, you need to work in the area of IP as a trainee under another IP professional. I benefited from working with many registered patent and trademark agents who taught me the foundational knowledge of IP and best practices for this area of law."
4. Are you experiencing any challenges unique to COVID-19? How do you anticipate adapting or evolving your practice to overcome these challenges?
"Intellectual Property (IP) is essential in giving businesses a competitive edge and in this climate, it is more important than ever to invest in IP to protect your brand, inventions, designs and creative works. Even prior to COVID-19, my practice had been more virtual in nature, including communicating with clients over video, phone and email. So, from that perspective, COVID-19 did not cause too much of an adjustment.
One challenge early on had been the inability to attend conferences and other in-person networking events. However, the world adapted quickly, and I’ve found several online social and networking opportunities, including moderating webinars, that has allowed me to connect with and expand my network of Canadian and international IP professionals as well as clients."
5. On a slightly different note, is there anything that you’re excited about or looking forward to this year?
"This year I joined the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Committee, which has allowed me to contribute and shape the webinar content for IPIC members. One important webinar I organized and moderated was on the topic of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). The program provided practical strategies for incorporating EDI into workplaces and also into our everyday lives. I look forward to continuing to develop high quality and varied CPD programs for IPIC members."
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