In a series of blogs, we look at the women shaping the IP Industry and their experiences within it. In this installment, Director of Law Firm Analytics Doris Spielthenner, describes her IP career journey across 3 continents.
“Unintimidated by the unknown." This is how CPA Global’s Director of Law Firm Analytics, Doris Spielthenner, describes the journey that led her to forge a career across three continents and create a successful IP analytics company. From growing up in Austria, to living and working in Australia, Doris is a woman in IP unintimidated by the unknown.
“I never expected to work in the IP industry,” says Doris. “When I started my career, I was not even consciously aware of it!”
As a youngster living in the Austrian countryside, Doris’ first passion was travel. Initially considering a career in aviation, she instead enrolled in a business and multi-language high school to broaden her horizons. It was here she unearthed a passion for the arts – going on to apply for the Vienna Art School to study industrial design.
With an intake of just 10 students, Doris did not quite make the cut. However, with a fall back plan to move to London for a year and then reapply, Doris left Austria and took a leap of faith.
“I always say that I’ll try anything once. I’m open to any experience where I will learn something new – whether it’s about a subject, myself or something completely surprising,” she continues.
The move paid off, but not in the way she expected. Doris spent her 12 months overseas meeting people from around the world which reignited her desire to explore international business. Foregoing the arts, Doris returned to Vienna to study international commerce and - in parallel - a Bachelor and Master’s degree in communications and psychology.
A pivotal moment
In 2001 Doris co-founded early data analytics start-up FASresearch, providing specialised data analytics solutions to the private and public sector. When the company expanded to the US, Doris moved to San Francisco and later New York city to set up the business and lead the development. Working largely in the telecoms and pharmaceutical industry, she was attending a Women in Pharma networking lunch when she met Antoinette Konski - a Patent Attorney and Partner at Foley & Lardner.
“We started talking about a hypothesis she had developed around the US experiencing a brain drain during the Bush administration and how some of the most groundbreaking stem cell research and funding had moved away,” says Doris. “I was working on some algorithms at the time and suggested I could help.”
Doris went on to develop an approach to analysing the patent landscape based on patent citations. By finding new ways to extract and visualise the most important patents in the landscape and illustrate the trajectory of research, Doris was able to show the most groundbreaking innovations had indeed moved away from the US. Antoinette and Doris’ research was published in Nature Biotechnology, giving Doris the personal confidence and recognition to realise she was really onto something.
“IP is truly an international industry. People come up with processes and treaties to trust and work with one another globally. Having lived in different countries I could appreciate cultural differences and help navigate the challenges that stemmed from these – while also visualising opportunities for closing such gaps.”
Be the change you want to see
In 2009, Doris was on the move again.
“Moving from New York to Australia was the one time I moved for love,” says Doris. Relocating to a country she had never visited before, Doris found herself on the other side of the world with few contacts or real knowledge of the Australian market.
“It took me more than a year to re-establish myself,” she adds. “I realised early-on that Australian companies tended to pigeonhole their people, but I knew I wanted to be in a job that allowed me to leverage my diverse experience and truly add value. I had to look at what I liked to do and just go ahead and do it.”
After spending time further developing her own patent algorithms and approaches, in 2010 Doris founded Ambercite – a set of tools that would transform patent discovery. With her background in the application of advanced social network analytics, Doris realised the same principles could be applied to disrupt the status quo of patent search and analysis, vastly improving patent quality.
“Being in the IP industry just fits my personality. If you develop a new product, approach or business model, one person can make a real impact and shape how the industry does things. Creating a new product that could have a broader impact satisfied my creative side and the chance of driving new scientific discoveries was completely fascinating.”
Taking it to the top
While managing Ambercite, Doris accepted other managerial roles in the IP industry, shaping both IP technology products and companies. In 2018, CPA Global acquired Filing Analytics and Citation Eagle, both products within Practice Insight, a business she was leading at that time. Doris has since managed the commercial transition and technical integration of these products into CPA Global.
“If I wanted to continue working in IP, I knew I needed to join forces with a leading and global player in the industry,” she comments. “The IP industry is changing with corporates and firms needing to re-think how to problem-solve IP related matters, and CPA Global is in the sweet spot to help advance that transformation. That is what gets me out of bed in the morning – finding challenges I need to solve and thinking about how I need to solve them. I have been working with CPA Global for about a year now and I feel very much at home. The people are courageous, fun, work as a team and think global.”
CPA Global serves customers from more than 30 offices across globe, but with its head offices in Europe, time and distance can prove challenging for Doris and her team operating 9000 miles away in Australia.
“Flexible working hours are certainly required from me, but also the people I work closely with in different continents. I have always had the opportunity to meet and work with people face-to-face across our global offices and that has helped me be successful in my role,” says Doris. “This culture of collaboration and flexibility is something that CPA Global lives and breathes and helps make it much easier for women to juggle work and family life too.”
Know your value
CPA Global values the impact of innovative women in IP, striving to protect the rights of idea generators.
Doris comments: “There are certainly a solid number of women in IP role models within CPA Global and the wider IP industry, ranging from inventors, to IP practice leaders and business leaders. I think this might be because IP requires you to wear different hats, and women tend to do well in navigating and translating between different fields.
“My one piece of advice for other women in the industry? Nothing is eternal. Whatever you study, or whatever first job you take, it does not mean you will have to do this for the rest of your life. Life has endless options and you can do things in parallel - re-train, re-learn, re-invent yourself. Be the change you want to see.”