Ann M. Cannoni is a partner and vice president at the Webb Law Firm, an intellectual property firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has worked at Webb Law for 18 years, concentrating on patent strategy, preparation, protection, and litigation around pharmaceuticals, polymers, organic chemistry, and medical devices. Before joining Webb Law, she was senior patent counsel at Schering-Plough, a pharmaceutical company, and was counsel at PPG Industries for seven years. Ann earned her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Villanova University and her law degree from the Catholic University of America. She has been an LES member since 2011 and has served on the board for three years. As President-elect, she will succeed President Karthika Perumal in October 2023.
Q: What inspired your switch from engineering to law?
A: Ann: Chemical engineering, of course, involves both chemistry and mechanical work. It’s interesting—you don’t find that many chemical engineers or science people in law except in the patent areas. I worked for a couple of years as a chemical engineer, but I wanted to do something that included more of my interests. I’m kind of what I call ambidextrous; I like science, and I also like reading, writing, and speaking. So I thought the law would be a good fit. To be able to leverage my engineering experience in my legal work has been great. My work is a very interesting mix of new inventions, law, and helping people make the most of their inventions.
Q: How did you get involved in LES?
A: Ann: I learned about LES from a colleague at Schering-Plough, and I was intrigued. I’ve always done licensing work and due diligence, so I thought LES sounded like an interesting organization to be part of. I found the people to be wonderful—just great to work with! It’s never a chore to volunteer for LES, and it was very easy to get involved. After working in what’s now called the physical sciences sector, and serving as sector chair, I was asked to join the board.
Q: What projects have you especially enjoyed working on?
A: Ann: I’ve worked on membership for the three years I’ve served on the board. It’s been rewarding, although challenging with COVID, to retain members and find new ones. We have a very good, very creative group working on membership, and we’ve come up with two new programs. I’m pleased with how successful they have been. One is the IP Owners program, a group membership for up to 15 people. Employees of corporations, universities, research organizations, research foundations, nonprofits, and government organizations are eligible. We have 35 IP Owner members, and we just started the program about a year-and-a-half ago.
The other new program is Emerging Leaders, which is targeted at folks who have less than 10 years of experience in licensing or intellectual property. They get a reduced rate for the first three years and opportunities for leadership experience. We’ve attracted well over 100 Emerging Leader members since January 2022.
The connection with LESI is a great asset. Since I’ve gotten more involved and become acquainted with some international members, I’ve had opportunities to attend events overseas. It’s helpful in my own work to make these kinds of connections and exciting to meet people from all over the world who share my interest in licensing.
Q: What ideas do you have for your term as President of LES?
A: Ann: I’d like to say—each president holds office for one year, but the immediate past president, the current president and the upcoming president work together so there is continuity. The president, of course, is the final decision maker, but all three of us are involved, and that collaboration is very beneficial to the organization.
There are so many things I want to work on! I especially want to enhance the membership experience—that is, get more feedback about what our members are interested in., and I want to increase the frequency and content of our webinars and educational events. It’s great that we’re getting back to holding in-person events, and we definitely want to increase those. I’m interested in creating more networking opportunities both within LES and with LESI, the international organization.
I also want to encourage people to volunteer. It’s been my experience that you get far more out of it than you put in. LES members are great to work with—intelligent, amazingly dedicated, friendly, and a lot of fun. I was recently talking to someone who’s involved with LES, and she said, “When we get together, it’s kind of like having all your fun cousins in one place.” I wish I had said this because I thought it was a perfect description of LES gatherings.
Q: How do you like to spend your leisure time?
A: Ann: Well, I’m married, and I have a dog who would like to take up all my free time. I really love to run marathons. I’m not fast, but I can finish. I’ve run four of the six majors—New York, Chicago, London, and Berlin. So maybe someday when I retire, I’ll have time to do the other two major marathons.