Greetings!  The year is well underway, and here at LES we’ve matched the promise of the new year with corresponding energy. Like you, we were eager to put 2020 in the rearview mirror, and we’re excited for a bright future ahead. The coming year promises new programs for our members, advancements in communication, and of course an ongoing commitment to improving LES for our entire membership community.

I’m excited to share a few new developments. First, we’re pleased to announce the launch of our new blog, which will be known as The Deal Point.  We have chosen this name because the deal point is the issue in any transaction that is the last point on which the parties agree before the deal is done:  it is the most difficult compromise, requiring focus, skill, and creativity to craft a solution. The new LES blog is anticipated to provide our community with perspectives from LES leaders on critical, timely issues and to share how LES can help us all to realize our personal development goals in the deal-making professions. In the coming months, we will gradually replace our publications, starting with Insights, with the blog, which will serve as the digital home for LES updates, industry deep-dives, educational posts, and more.

We are also thrilled to introduce our new tagline: Learning. Excellence. Sharing. Extensive thought went into crafting this tagline, and I’d like to take a moment to walk you through the process and the significance of its meaning. Founded in 1965, LES was created to cater specifically to licensing executives, and was named as such. Over time, however, the field has evolved, and we now do so much more than straight licensing transactions. Today, licenses are usually part of a more complicated bundle of agreements that require a wide range of expertise. Also, the LES mission has properly embraced the creation and management of intellectual property (IP) as well as the use of IP as business assets in licensing and other transactions.  The majority of LES members today are not C-suite level executives.  Instead, our membership reflects the typical cross-functional team of professionals with different specialties who come together to make IP-driven deals and collaborations successful.  We are accountable to the C-suite and we share the priority of educating the C-suite about IP as well as driving business strategies through licenses and other types of IP-driven transactions.

So, with the evolving LES membership and faithfulness to our mission in mind, we sought a more inclusive tagline that communicates our key values in a clear, understandable way. Learning, Excellence, and Sharing – these values are central to everything we do, and they represent us as a society. They are pillars that serve as a guide for our programs and our members. Let’s take a moment to explore the importance of each.   


LES is a professional education society, and education and learning are at the heart of everything we do. When I was new to the field, I was encouraged by my mentors to join LES. They emphasized how important community and professional learning were to my chosen specialty and career path. They showed me by example that education isn’t just about classrooms, or degrees, or even on-the-job learning. There are myriad nuances and legal intricacies that go into making an enforceable licensing deal, numerous business principles required to ensure it makes economic sense for both parties, and multiple legal frameworks in use around the world for IP and business transactions. LES members need a broad, multifaceted understanding of how innovative businesses form and grow. We also need the flexibility to apply our knowledge across different industries, stages in the business life cycle, and even legal frameworks to make deals happen. This type of experience is not acquired solely in a classroom – it requires lifelong learning and professional development.

LES is built around the concept of peer-, mentor- and community-based learning. We’re proud to offer a full curriculum of professional development courses, ranging from introductory level to advanced intermediate to expert level. But in a broader sense, all our meetings and events have a learning component. LES is committed to life-long learning in formal and informal settings and that commitment surrounds and defines the spirit of the society.


LES prides itself on our reputation of excellence and the many ways in which we aspire to measure up to that standard. We do so not only for our members, but for the broader business, legal, IP, and finance community. LES provides a variety of resources that expedite and smooth deal making processes. The society is known for our multi-national surveys of economic deal terms and royalty rates for licensing deals, which have long served as a trusted resource for economic benchmarks defining high-technology and life sciences deals. Our RRDT Survey Reports are just one way the society delivers excellence for our members.

Through our ANSI-accredited standards development programs, LES is exploring new frontiers in best practices for IP in a variety of fields, including IP in the Supply Chain, IP Licensing Practices, IP Management for Startups, Intangible Assets in the Boardroom, IP Valuation, and others.  Each of these voluntary standards apply LES leadership and excellence in a neutral, authoritative way to educate the broader community in how to harness the value of IP to grow innovative businesses.

We are also a respected voice in public policy for legislation and legal reform that affects how well the innovation economy operates.  We are distinguished from trade advocacy groups by our informed, neutral position – we speak for the best interests of a healthy IP and business ecosystem. Our expertise and efforts in public policy have been applauded by leaders in the field, including the judiciary and legislative branches of government.

Finally, at LES, we aim to not only deliver excellence, but to recognize its presence within our community. LES celebrates individual excellence by bestowing the Frank Barnes Mentor Award to one of our own each year: this award recognizes experienced individuals who have demonstrated their generosity of spirit by helping to advance the careers of others in the field of licensing. The Barnes Award winners have been around the block, have seen how deals unfold, what makes some succeed and others not. Recently, we have called upon our Barnes Award winners to ‘pay it forward’ even more through our exclusive career-building facilitated roundtables program, the Network Enabled Teams, or NETs, for LES members experiencing career transitions.


Sharing captures our core characteristic and value that, from its beginning, LES has been about creating a convivial community of people who enjoy being together, which naturally supports the coming together of individuals and ideas. Building community in this way is essential since the deal-making process has an inherent adversarial nature: in the course of doing deals, LES members will find themselves on opposite sides of the negotiating table. This makes it critical for the professionals in our field to get to know each other outside of the adversarial forum, to develop a knowledge and understanding for the personality, preferences, and even cultural difference of the deal parties with whom we’re engaging. Sharing, in this way, builds trust and nurtures lifelong personal relationships.

Looking Forward

Learning, Excellence, and Sharing will guide us on our LES journey this year and beyond. And we’ve got some great things in store – 2021 promises to be a busy, exciting, and impactful year. I hope you’ll join us on the journey!

Learn more about LES membership here, watch this space for future blogs, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for all the latest.

About the Author

Gillian Fenton, President and Chair, LES

Gillian M. Fenton, Esq., CLP has been a member of LES (USA & Canada) since 1992. She has served in a variety of roles, including as member of the LES Insights Editorial Board and later Chair of the Editorial Board; as a volunteer mentor for the LES Foundation International Business Plan Competition, and as Director for Communications and Publications. Gillian is presently President and Chair of the Board of LES.

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