Alyssa Harvey Dawson, vice president, global intellectual property and licensing, Harman International
Alyssa Harvey Dawson, vice president, global intellectual property and licensing, Harman International

“No matter what you do, if you manufacture hard goods or are a maker of complex systems, you are creating IP throughout your business value chain,” says Alyssa Harvey Dawson, vice president, global intellectual property and licensing, Harman International.

In this day and age, more and more companies have come to the realization that patents, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks and other pieces of intellectual property are essential assets. And it’s not just the research and development or legal spheres that must be focused on IP, it’s the entirety of a company. “Every part of an organization needs to have IP as part of its considerations,” Dawson explains. “If you are not doing that, you are missing out on valuable differentiators for your company along the way.”

Harman, a home theater and personal audio company with over 5,600 patents issued or pending, is a company that intrinsically values IP from the top down, says Dawson. The home theater and personal audio company has over 5,600 patents issued or pending and, as whole, “respects IP.”



What is the future of patent reform?

3 trademark controversies brewing in the sports world

7 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines


But the biggest headlines in the IP field revolve around litigation, and Dawson has strong opinions on the state of patent litigation. “It’s expensive, with indefinite outcomes,” she says. “There are many procedures and maneuvers that can prolong the ultimate result… it’s a shame that the structure we now have for how these cases get litigated potentially degrades these valuable assets.” She notes that there have been abuses, as entities have pursued cases that have no merit, extorting from other companies in the process.

Three years ago, Congress took aim to reform the patent system, passing the America Invents Act (AIA). But many felt that this reform did not go far enough, and a series of proposed bills looked to address widespread concerns about abusive patent litigation. Those efforts stalled out and Dawson, for one, thinks this could lead to wiser reform down the road.

“When I was following new proposed patent reform, I was concerned,” she says. “It didn’t seem that we’d had enough time to see if the AIA was actually taking effect and dealing with some of the issues that were identified and resulted in the act in the first place. I was concerned about unintended consequences of this new reform, and I wanted to make sure that many different voices were part of the equation, that Congress was not being swayed by a few very loud voices that have a lot of power because of market share.”

Dawson hopes that the reform stalled because information from a variety of sources helped legislators think about unintended, possibly negative consequences that would have affected valuable intellectual property.

While much of the attention in the press of late had been on patents, Dawson knows that other IP matters are just as important to business strategies. The recent increase in generic top-level domains (gTLD) that are available has piqued her interest. “We’ve had lots of discussion about new gLTD,” she says. “What does that mean in terms of trademark protection?” Harman focuses on trademark and brand protection around the globe and wants to ensure that its rights and marks are being protected. “New gLTDs add complexity, and have led us to think critically as to what the impact will be.”

Dawson serves on the advisory board for the upcoming Women, Influence & Power in Law event in Washington, DC, where she will speak on intellectual property matters. “I’m looking forward to connecting with a talented group of women who are doing such great and dynamic things at companies across many different industries.”

The event runs from September 17-19. For more information, click here.

The Women, Influence & Power in Law conference offers an opportunity for unprecedented exchange with women inside and outside counsel. The event runs from Sept. 17-19 and is being held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.