Navigate Up
Sign In

Reports from AIPLA's President

​Myra H. McCormack

AIPLA President, 2017-2018

Our new AIPLA president is a bit hard to describe.  Is she an IP advocate?  A prosecutor?  A corporate counselor?  A mediator?  A mother?  A wife?  A mentor?  A teacher?  Myra is all of these.  But, perhaps, the best characterization is that she is a friend.  Myra is a friend to many – members of her family, her company, her community, and to members of the AIPLA.  As a friend, she cares deeply for all.  

Myra has also developed a unique ability to calm the storms that impact our profession.  As a result of her study of meditation techniques, she excels as a facilitator, negotiator, and mediator.  These skills will serve AIPLA well, as she leads us in addressing the myriad of complex issues that face our organization.

No, Myra was not born in a yurt in Tibet. 

She had a typical upbringing in St. Paul, MN, graduated from Minnesota’s St. Olaf College with degrees in Chemistry and Biology, and from the University of Minnesota with a Ph.D. in Pathobiology.  She also shared her passion for science with another graduate student, Bob McCormack, who has been with her for over 28 years as her husband.  In fact, when asked about her greatest adventure, Myra identifies her marriage to Bob.  She remarks that they “have had lean times and bountiful times, tough times, simple times – [she] wouldn’t trade . . . [her] life with him for anything.” 

Bob is a regular at most AIPLA meetings, so be sure to say hello when you get a chance.

Myra and Bob have also raised a remarkable daughter, Catherine “Cat” McCormack, a recent graduate of George Washington University, where she majored in communications and dance. Cat moved to San Francisco after college, where she works in the tech industry.  While Myra and Bob miss their daughter, they are excited for her future life adventures.  Myra describes Cat as “a bundle of fabulous energy wrapped in a good sense of humor and a great work ethic.  She is crushing her life post-college.” 

After graduate school, Myra moved to San Diego and worked at Knobbe Martens where she migrated to patent law – a profession that caught-on with a passion.  Mentored by Ned Israelson, Myra learned the fundamentals of patent prosecution while working as a patent agent.  In one early experience, Ned brought Myra to a USPTO interview and a dinner with Judge Giles S. Rich.  This experience, coupled with the fascinating legal and social controversies associated with Biotechnology, created a fertile landscape for cutting Myra’s IP teeth.  Having the opportunity to combine her love of science with law, Myra attended the University of San Diego Law School, earning her J.D.

When asked about Myra’s transition to patent law, her husband Bob remarked that “Myra’s consistent career growth in patent law makes it easy to assume patent law was her goal from the very beginning.  It was not!  She actually wanted to be a scientist, but defaulted to patent law when she realized she could not wear designer clothes under a lab coat (not to mention what to do with the high heel shoes!).”  While we are sure that Bob jests, patent law is better for Myra’s transition.

As much as they liked the west coast, in 1996 Myra and Bob returned to Minnesota, where Myra worked as a patent attorney at Merchant & Gould and Mueting, Raasch & Gebhardt.  While in Minnesota, Myra demonstrated her dedication to robust patent prosecution. After that, Myra continued eastward to enter the corporate environment, working at Novartis. After a 3-year stint there, she found her current home at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey.

The corporate environment has been a good home for Myra.  At J&J, she manages a great group of patent attorneys that support research efforts in immunology, infectious disease, and vaccine development.  Myra’s expertise in biotechnology, science, and law has helped her evolve into a respected leader and profound mentor at J&J.  In the words of one of Myra’s direct reports, “Myra is always available to catch up on substantive matters, but more importantly she has a genuine interest in hearing about what is happening in my life.  She’s asked countless times ‘So how are you doing?’ . . . Myra has a knack for learning about what is important to the people in her group and helping make sure we can balance our careers with other things that are important to us.”  In a word, Myra is a mentor.

AIPLA has become a big part of the fabric of Myra’s personal and professional life.  To get to know the personal side of Myra, we asked her “When did you last laugh until you cried?“ and she brought it back to AIPLA.   She told us, “I have a great group of professional women I am close to in AIPLA.  We try to have dinner during the stated meetings . . . [and] it is a beautiful thing when we are together.  We live all across the country and it is such a joy to share time with them.”  Cat, Myra’s daughter, added “I think for my mom, AIPLA has meant the most because of the community of like-minded – but also very different – people within the organization. Her love for the organization extends way beyond the work. I don’t know much about what happens behind the meeting room doors … but I have experienced the camaraderie, and joy that happens during the more social parts, and I know for her that has been a huge impact on her career and professional development. I would also say her most meaningful friendships have come from within the organization.”  Finding and developing such deep friendships is what AIPLA is all about. 

When she met Judge Rich in 1995, she saw an opportunity to contribute to IP Law by joining AIPLA, and she has not looked back.  Myra’s AIPLA pedigree includes membership on the Professional Programs Committee, the Board of Directors (2004 to 2007), and the AIPLA Fellows, as well as numerous other committees and subcommittees.  Through all of her volunteer activities, Myra has made significant contributions to the IP profession while exemplifying the highest standards of ethical conduct. 

Myra is now the 7th woman AIPLA President in our 120-year history and the 3rd woman from a corporation. 

Myra brings her wealth of managerial and diplomatic skills to the AIPLA Presidency.  One of her direct reports at J&J notes that Myra can be best described as “consistent.  That sounds like a boring description, but it is meant to be a high compliment.  She is rarely too high or too low—usually just right.  You can approach Myra with a very serious business risk or a very minor non-substantive issue.  You’ll always get a balanced, thoughtful, and intelligent response. . . . She will have her opinions but I’ve seen those opinions change if a different approach had a greater likelihood of a successful outcome.  That does not always come easy to people with her academic and professional pedigree and is a skill-set that will serve AIPLA well.”  Another notes that Myra “infuses mindfulness” into every aspect of her life.  Myra’s daughter, Cat, shared “She’s a great listener... She is so good at hearing and understanding and having a level of interest and empathy when she connects with anyone. I think that is so hard to come by and something everyone at AIPLA should take advantage of!”

Myra has an unbiased attitude with a strong appreciation of human nature that allows her to create substantive discussions with diverse audiences.  This comes, at least in part, from her love of history.  We asked her “If you could spend a day with anyone in history (dead or alive), who would it be?”  Myra responded “Definitely George Washington.  I read a lot of American History and how he ever made it successfully through the revolution – or how our founding fathers reached agreement on the Constitution is beyond me.  Especially living in these times – their success really does seem like a miracle.”  Myra’s deep knowledge of history and its lessons on human nature, together with her skill at bringing competing parties to agreement, will serve AIPLA well. 

Myra comes well prepared for the challenges faced by the IP community.  She will be an effective leader.  But most importantly, Myra will continue to be her funny, charming, kind, and supportive self – what more could we possibly hope for in a President!  Please join us in congratulating Myra!