International Women's Day Profile - IPIC Director - Elizabeth S. Dipchand
Marked annually on March 8th International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Participation is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements and rally for women's equality. This year's campaign theme is ‘Break the Bias,’ whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field. In celebration of this day IPIC will highlight prominent women members who are just some of the many incredible women within the IP profession.
Elizabeth S. Dipchand, Partner, Dipchand LLP, IPIC Director
Elizabeth S. Dipchand is the founder and partner at Dipchand LLP, a boutique law firm located on Bay Street in Toronto. Dipchand LLP is the destination for purposeful, innovative and creative legal solutions where transformative relationships catalyze magical collaborations, proliferating success and excellence in all that we have the privilege to touch.
Elizabeth does so through the firm’s intellectual property law and litigation practice, focusing on the acquisition, management and enforcement of IP rights and intangible assets for clients that rely heavily on intellectual capital in their business. She gained significant experience in the intellectual property litigation group of a major national law firm and continued her practice at the nation`s top ranked litigation boutique before founding Dipchand LLP in 2010.
Elizabeth advises clients on all forms of intellectual property rights, including patents, trade-marks and copyrights. In her litigation practice, Elizabeth has represented clients in matters before the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Ontario Superior Court and Ontario Court of Appeal involving intellectual property and intangible assets, as well as commercial disputes and proceedings dealing with franchise law.
Elizabeth has had extensive experience in the management of complex intellectual property litigation matters in Canada and their coordination in different jurisdictions around the world involving patents, trademarks, and copyright issues. While practicing on Bay Street, Elizabeth`s practice focused on pharmaceutical and biotech patent litigation, drug & biologics regulatory law. She completed her LLM where her research was a comparative analysis in the US, EU and Canada of the linkages of patent status and regulatory approval entitled “Biosimilars: A Quest for a Rational Regulatory and Intellectual Property Approach in Canada”.
Beyond her legal practice, Elizabeth is proud to be actively involved with and support several organizations focused on making our world a better place. She’s an active member of many professional associations and has the pleasure of serving a number of boards where she brings her governance experience to bear. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors and respective governance committees for the Shaw Festival Theater in Niagara-On-The-Lake, the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC), FORA (formerly G(irls)20) dedicated to advancement through the leadership of girls and women globally, and the Dalhousie Law Alumni Association Board.
For many years, Elizabeth has had the privilege of serving as a judge for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, Women of Influence’s premier national awards program. As a result of Elizabeth’s commitment to using her voice and platform to promote women and people of colour in law, business, leadership, and STEM, she was named an inaugural Female Trailblazer Excellence Awardee Canadian Law Awards in 2021.
Why is equality, diversity, and inclusion important to the IP profession?
It is the right thing to do. Period. Full stop.
It is not a question of how we accommodate women or those in other marginalized communities, it is a question of how we shift our framework, our thinking of how we all show up and move forward together. It is only through full participation of our entire community will we find the best solutions for our clients, meaningful innovation for our profession and a system that is better representative of all of our lived experiences.
As well, it is not a matter of the business case or appeasing clients, it is important because we have a collective obligation to be responsible professionals and humans.
Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
My team and I have had the privilege of great success in many areas; our greatest professional achievements, however, is our shop and how we show up for each other, our clients and our communities every day.
At Dipchand LLP, we actively identify, attract and collect like-minded people and fantastic beasts, cultivating a universe of those who will remain in our orbit. Together, we are partners, friends, allies, and champions on our expedition towards a better future we all aspire to create through acts of service and with unapologetic manifest joy.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Break the Bias” (Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field), what actions do you believe need to be taken in the IP profession to Break the Bias?
It is easy to let the discussion hang on bias, but the real work is moving past and into the strategy phase. The first order of business is to build a common foundation for these important discussions by doing the work to understand the context of the experiences of those in the IP profession from marginalized communities. With that basis, understanding the many and varied ways that people are excluded will allow us to shift existing frameworks. Ultimately, our shop’s goal is to cultivate an inclusive framework for our community where we all feel supported in our common endeavour to be awesome and have fun.
With the support of many stakeholders, IPIC is in the early stages of embarking on this important work and providing a framework to support the IP profession. This will be a long road ahead with some important and heavy lifting that we all need to do because it is the right thing to do.
What do you believe are the best ways individuals can challenge biases and inequalities to achieve change?
Do the work.
It is not incumbent on, nor are any one of us entitled to the stories of people who have experienced discrimination; asking them to put their pain on display or otherwise justify the adversity they have faced on the basis of their “otherness” is at best manifestly misguided and at work profoundly harmful.
Resources that individuals can access to support each of our individual inclusivity efforts are abundant. To name a profoundly short list, please see any of the following:
The following are some relevant resources that may be helpful:
- Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion Resources - https://ccdi.ca/resources/
- The Government of Canada’s Introduction to Gender-Based Analysis Plus - https://women-gender-equality.canada.ca/gbaplus-course-cours-acsplus/eng/mod00/mod00_01_01.html
- WIPO’s page on Gender Equality, Diversity and Intellectual Property - https://www.wipo.int/women-and-ip/en/
IPIC’s efforts in E&I will soon provide additional resources and important engagement in our community. Stay tuned.
What advice do you have for aspiring women IP professionals?
- Act with integrity – character and reputation is absolutely everything in law and in life. Do not take that for granted.
- Be a good human – Remember you are human and those around you are as well, so be mindful of the small but important steps you can take in your life to be a good human.
- Connect with good humans – Relationships underpin almost all aspects of our profession that matter.
- Be excellent – Excellence is the default.
- Be curious – Curiosity is fundamental to finding solutions.
- Be you – Know yourself and understand how the identities that you bring to your life and practice influence both.
- Take ownership – You are the only one in charge of your personal, professional, and business development.
- Prioritize fun – Fun and happiness drives success, not the other way around so if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
What will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders in the IP profession?
There is no challenge, there are only opportunities. <said in the voice of Yoda>
Well, of course there are challenges, but we can choose how they are perceived; we choose the opportunity mindset over seeing obstacles. Underpinning this perspective, however, is the important weight of responsibility that comes with the privilege of leadership in service of others.
In short: filter out the noise, focus on opportunities – then show up, be excellent, live your values and do the work. It matters.