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Legal Eagle Eye for Opportunity

Microsoft Corp. has always been a big spender when it comes to licensing other companies’ patents for use on its Windows operating system. But now, in the aftermath of the Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit against the software giant, it is looking to license its own intellectual property on a grander scale. Sounds like a job for a few good lawyers, which is where people like Lisa Tanzi come in.

Tanzi, 38, manages the business and legal team that handles “outbound” IP licensing for Microsoft, meaning she develops IP licensing strategies, negotiates deals, and spends a great deal of time drafting and reviewing agreements.

“The projects I work on are very diverse,” she says. “I’m often involved in over 15 different matters each day.”

Licensing deals can take years to close, which is why Tanzi finds particular satisfaction in getting one done. These deals help meet the increased demands for interoperability between software and operating systems. It’s also a job that demands considerable intellectual firepower. Tanzi must understand tomes of laws governing copyrights, patents, trademarks, and “trade secrets.”

“A few years ago, it was more likely that I would be teased about my ‘geeky’ job at a cocktail party than be asked about hot IP issues,” she chuckles. “Now, IP certainly seems to be where the action is.”

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