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Jane Durden, VP, Law Firm Strategy at Anaqua, Makes Patent Law and Related Privacy Issues Easy to Understand

Think patents are dry and dull? This episode will change your mind. Our guest this week, Jane Durden, VP, Law Firm Strategy at Anaqua, gives us an insider look at the challenge and importance of data privacy for patent law. If you are new to patent law and issues, no worries – Durden makes the concepts and processes easy to understand and, even more important, interesting and relatable to our everyday lives. And her Australian accent doesn’t hurt either.

Here are the highlights from this week’s episode:

Privacy and Patent Laws

Durden starts off by explaining how confidentiality and privacy are at the core of patent law. The goal is to help clients monetize the intellectual property – such as patents, trademarks, copyright trade secrets and domain names – in their mind and protect against other people using their ideas, which means that the information in the patent must stay private until legally protected by law. She gives an example of how multiple groups are currently working on a COVID-19 vaccine as an invention that will be patentable for 20 years – start to finish – then the information will be made available to the public. However, she says that until that time, the concept of privacy, restriction of access to information, and confidentiality is really critical. Because the lawyer working with you on the process likely also works with thousands of other clients, they have to keep the information private and restrict data access to the information.

The Patent Process Simplified

“When you file for a patent to the US Patent and Trademark Office, you are saying that you are going to describe the bounds of the pattern of invention in exchange for the exclusive rights to use it, sell it, license it or not do anything with it in exchange for a monopoly over a period of time, called a grant of the passion. At the end of the time, you will give the information to the public for the benefit of the community.”

– Jane Durden, VP, Law Firm Strategy at Anaqua

On-Premise vs. Cloud for Patents

When Durden arrived in the US 20 years ago, lawyers were updating paper files and managing complex information manually. When law firms moved to digital, the files were kept in software installed on-premises for security reasons. However, many law firms ran into serious issues with on-premises installs when much of NYC was literally underwater and they could not access their files. Durden says that even though it’s expensive, time consuming and space consuming, many people in the legal field feel that on-premise is the only safe option.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and many people working from home, the challenges with on-prem have come back to the forefront. Durden shares how she was speaking with a law firm last week that couldn’t get something they needed because the person was at home instead of at the office and unable to access the on-premises data. While many law firms have found a temporary work-around using a VPN, even they acknowledge that this isn’t a long-term solution.

Purpose of Confidentiality

“Why do we want to maintain confidentiality and restrict access? Because we are trying to prevent harm because there’s a value associated with that information.”

– Jane Durden, VP, Law Firm Strategy at Anaqua

Outlook Is Not a Safe Storage Solution

Durden says she often finds that while law firms are opposed to cloud solutions, they are either using unsafe processes or already using cloud solutions without realizing it. When she starts asking questions, she usually uncovers that many people who are working around the issues with on-premises storage are actually using Outlook email for storage. Instead of using a secure cloud solution, they default to keeping all the information and files in their email database. Her next question is always what their protection strategy for their email is, which they usually do not have.

During the conversation, she often hears from the legal firms about the importance of protecting financial data. However, when she asks more questions, she learns that they are using banking apps to manage client accounts and transfer money. She shares that she thinks that many people don’t understand the difference between hosted and cloud, as well as what the benefits and safety concerns are.

Ready to listen?

We’ve covered a lot in this recap, but the episode contains many interesting points and topics, especially about privacy concerns related to outsourcing to other countries. Durden also talks in depth about how different countries view privacy in terms of patents and intellectual property. Listen to the whole episode here.

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