Lila Milford is a National Account Manager at CPA Global. Having joined the company in 2015, Lila has since developed a deep understanding of IP management and the power of ideas. In her own words, Lila talks us through her IP journey, from Santa Clara University School of Law to IP professional.


On August 5, 2011 I stepped foot off a plane, seeing California for the first time in my life. I was at San Jose International airport in the heart of Silicon Valley, on my way to Santa Clara University where I would begin my first semester of law school.

The allure of Silicon Valley’s hub of change is – in my opinion – akin to Florence during the Renaissance, or Philadelphia in the time of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. It is where the germination of some of the most disruptive ideas of our time and their execution comes to fruition.

It is hard to imagine what progress would look like today without some of the ideas that companies have brought to market here – from personal computers to search algorithms.

What drives these innovators to take risks and come up with the next big breakthrough?

Our US Constitution lays out part of the puzzle:

Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the United States Constitution grants Congress the power to “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

In simple terms it is the ability to reap as much money as possible from your idea and prevent others from making money on it without you at least getting something in return, for a couple of years. This right is what is known as Intellectual Property (IP). Similar to other property rights IP can be sold, licensed – think leased – out, or abandoned. (Read more information on intellectual property rights).

The value of the idea and acclaim of the inventor has grown into an entire industry. Corporations hire engineers or buy their IP, law firms and in-house counsel help secure the right in the legal system – making strategic decisions around the investment, management, and enforcement of those rights – and the courts make enforcement possible. Then there are the people who make sure deadlines are not missed and the right documents are filed, tracked, and all related payments are made in time.

All communications, timing, tracking, reporting and payments encompass IP Management. Today, this requires attorneys, paralegals and docketing staff to constantly balance people, processes and technology. This is where I come in. 

The challenges of IP Management run the gamut, from law firms looking for ways to provide more cost certainty for their clients to corporations looking for a consolidated way to manage the on-going payments on their various portfolios. The challenges and goals are different for each client and have evolved over time.

The solutions to meet these challenges are what I help map out and provide with a combination of people, software, and intelligence. These solutions have developed at an incredibly rapid rate in the last ten years in response to the IP industry’s disruptive changes – such as the market crash of 2008, which pushed corporations to pressure law firms to fit within their shrinking budget and resources. More recently the infusion of data analytics is proving to have a transformative impact on the IP industry.

I believe that most people are not gifted with the ability of foreseeing exactly where they will end up ten, twenty, thirty years after high school, and maybe if they do, the path that will get them there is not clear yet. I think that is okay – great, actually. I read a book* recently where the Eleven-time NBA champion coach, Phil Jackson wrote,

“To make your work meaningful, you need to align it with your true nature… when it bears a relationship to our unfolding journey.”

I find true enrichment working with those creating the ideas that change our world, and the people that help make it happen.

*From the book “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success” by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty, pg. 125