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Top Women in IP: Katherine Franco

Texas Lawyer

Earlier this year, Blank Rome partner Katherine Franco was named a Top Woman in IP honoree as part of the 2022 Texas Lawyer Awards. In her honoree profile published in Texas Lawyer, Katherine shares insights about starting an inclusive inventorship initiative at our firm, advice for new lawyers, as well as other topics. 

To read the full article, please click here.

Katherine's honoree profile, as published in Texas Lawyer, is copied in full below.


What are some of your proudest recent achievements, and why? Last year was a dynamic one. I lead a team of patent attorneys in representing a major tech company in Silicon Valley. After 2020, I saw a decline in profitability across my team due to a number of reasons, some related to the global pandemic. I was tasked with increasing profitability in 2021. Working with teams across the firm, I dove deep into the data, identified issues with efficiency and reallocated work. I worked with our chief innovation officer to develop a new staffing structure to maintain top talent in a competitive market. As a result, we increased our profitability by a metric we had not seen even prior to the pandemic, all while remaining a go-to firm for our client and expanding our relationships. From a pro bono perspective, I am proud of my work on voting rights, and in particular the push for drive-thru voting in 2020.

What can law firms and other organizations do to more effectively move the needle on gender diversity? As a Latina patent attorney, I am a frequent speaker on diversity in inventorship. The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently revealed that a mere 12% of inventors listed on patent applications are women. I began an Inclusive Inventorship Initiative at my firm to provide webinars and other materials to assist our clients in reaching gender parity in patents. There are systemic ways that I can see women being left behind. I have worked with clients to develop and rethink patent programs in a manner that is not just gender neutral, but effectively providing an “invitation to innovate” to all people. In the legal field, I believe we need to do more to effectively make leadership positions viable and accessible to people of all backgrounds.

What’s one piece of advice you would give that you wish you had been given starting out? There is a lot of power in authenticity. I came up in law firm settings where no other patent attorney looked like me, in terms of gender or ethnicity. Because of that, I found myself trying to emulate partners who had very different backgrounds and life experiences. In retrospect, I should have spent the time building my own brand and worrying less about trying to look the part of a patent attorney. If you are a patent attorney, then that is what a patent attorney looks like. Clients and colleagues like to work with people they can trust, and people trust authenticity.