Alumna protects intellectual property at Groupon
“I think being a trademark attorney is exciting and interesting,” said Erin Wright Lothson ‘08, intellectual property senior corporate counsel for Groupon. “There are so many brands that are extremely well known and immediately recognizable in any country, regardless of language. I decided this was an area I could really carve out a niche and specialize in.”
As an in-house attorney responsible for protecting an internationally known e-commerce company, Lothson has done more than just carve out a niche for herself as an intellectual property attorney. She’s now mentoring the next generation of leaders working to drive Groupon forward, and keep it at the forefront of the e-commerce marketplace.
Lothson is co-chair of the professional development committee for one of Groupon’s Employee Resource Groups – Women at Groupon. In that position, she helps manage the group’s mentoring program in addition to her day-to-day duties as senior corporate counsel.
“Part of the reason I decided to participate in this capacity was because I have had an immense amount of help from a village of people throughout my career. I strongly believe in mentoring. I personally benefit from it and I’ve had some really fabulous mentors so I understand how valuable it can be when the relationship clicks,” she explained.
“In my capacity with the Professional Development Committee, I derive a great deal of satisfaction from watching people grow. I have also had the chance to meet people in many departments that I otherwise might not cross paths with, so it has been rewarding to develop those relationships in the event that we need to work together in the future.”
But helping connect mentors and mentees is only one small part of Lothson’s responsibilities at Groupon. As intellectual property senior corporate counsel, she represents the company’s best interests on a wide-range of intellectual property issues.
“I am responsible for managing the trademark and copyright portfolio worldwide. I am also responsible for all non-patent IP issues, which include issues that implicate IP such as advertising clearance, search engine marketing, and search engine optimization, to name a few.”
In addition, she helps departments throughout Groupon manage the day-to-day legal issues that involve intellectual property.
Although it is a lot of responsibility, Lothson said she enjoys having the opportunity to work in so many areas.
“It makes it fun, interesting, and exciting. That’s part of what I love about it. When I worked for a firm, I was honing one particular skill set some days, usually trademark portfolio prosecution and management with occasional big-ticket litigation, but now I see a lot more variety,” she said.
Even during the busiest times of the year, like planning for the holiday shopping season and Black Friday sales, when any number of legal questions can come up that need her immediate attention, the ability to learn from those new challenges and work together with her colleagues to find the right answer makes it all feel worthwhile.
“We work very closely with the businesses and the various divisions, including Groupon Local, Groupon Goods, and Groupon Getaways, and there are always unique issues that pop up—like can I use this brand, can we offer that product, and how do we advertise those? It’s an exciting time, but also ever-changing and some of the things that come up are hard to anticipate. I’m learning new things every day and that’s what makes it fulfilling,” she said.
Overall, Lothson said the best part about her job is getting to help other people and the business accomplish their goals.
“I think from a big picture perspective, I like collaborating, I like advising, I like working with others. Now that I’m in this role, it’s immensely gratifying and highly stimulating. Many of the things I advise on are cutting-edge, and novel, and that makes it fun,” she said.