Meet the people who help our clients design and build innovative technology solutions to benefit their businesses as well as their customers: our subject matter experts aka SMEs. In this series, we’ll discover how they came to work in the industry and the changing role of technology in our lives. We’ll also get a glimpse into what makes them tick as people outside of work.
This time, we’re joined by Hannah McCarthy, our first dedicated IP counsel, who is based in London. Bringing together legal expertise and a passion for innovative technology, she is the best friend one could have when it comes to intellectual property and how to stay on the safe side.
Welcome Hannah, so good to have you. What has brought you into the tech industry and the field of intellectual property (IP)?
I always wanted to work with subject matter that was going to inspire and stimulate me… that old saying comes to mind: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I wanted to work with new and exciting technologies that would directly impact our lives. But I always saw myself as rules-driven, methodical, and I do get excited by the chance to have a good debate. Being a lawyer fits my personality, and working on intellectual property issues gives me a chance to get up close and personal with the technology that I find so fascinating.
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
The role of digitalisation. From a legal perspective, the courts now embrace electronic filing for court documents and accept e-signatures. It makes me laugh when I think back to the days I’d be fighting with an unresponsive fax machine, reams of paper, and an impending filing deadline.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
The EU’s draft AI (artificial intelligence) regulations are going to be a game changer and will capture so many types of technology – not just those classically seen as “AI”. It will also have reach beyond EU boundaries. With the risk of huge fines for non-compliance, businesses will have to work out how to operate in line with the EU’s documentation, monitoring, transparency, registration, conformity, and many other requirements. I am excited to be involved with this transition.
What aspect of your work are you most proud of and why?
Over the years I have helped so many clients manage IP and litigation risks. You would maybe think I’d be proudest of the “big wins” or the high-profile cases, but not at all. My most fulfilling career highlights have been times I’ve found pragmatic solutions to resolve disputes and where I have helped find a way to end a conflict and enable the parties to move on. I’m proud to have saved my clients excessive legal fees and time in Court by giving them the right advice when it was most important with a clean route to settlement. And that is not to say that I shy away from a fight… I am a litigator at heart. But often, the only winners when a dispute goes to trial are the lawyers racking up costs.
On the flip side, what aspect of your work has challenged you the most and where did you have some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
I’ve had some tricky opponents – some highly emotional, some purposefully manipulative, some very aggressive. And it’s easy to become irritated or react emotionally. I’ve learnt to focus on the facts and the detail, to methodically address arguments, and not to rise to the bait.
Now let’s move on to a few more personal questions. If you could go back in time and visit any historic period, where – or rather when – would you go?
The Moon, July 20, 1969…
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
IP rights in software… but I’d really need some slides to keep me on topic!
Would you be brave enough to share one of your guilty pleasures with us?
Watching my kids sleep… bit creepy, but so peaceful.
Who would be your 5 famous dinner party guests – real or fictional?
Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey (maybe I could squeeze Phoebe in for a sixth?!)
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
People who avoid failure also avoid success.
Many thanks to Hannah – read more about her take on IP in this LinkedIn article for World IP Day. And then stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!