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Still, the reality of the job is a lot of

hard work on a vast breadth of mat- ters. Te members of Microsoft’s IP division serve as counsel to research; provide counseling on copyright, trademark, and patent law issues and transactions; and handle regulatory and public policy matters. Prior to Gutiérrez’s tenure

Microsoft never sued unauthor- ized use of its inventions. Gutiérrez changed that. And while many applaud him for protecting the company’s high-quality intellectual property portfolio with cases such as Motorola [Microsoft sued Motorola for violating its patents with smart- phones] in the U.S. and Europe, detractors complain too much litiga- tion stifles innovation and competi- tion. “While advancing the position of Microsoft, I’m not out to destroy our competition,” said Gutiérrez. “Being inflexible isn’t conducive to good results. You need to think broadly and not be afraid to look at deal-making as an opportunity to reshape a relation- ship. By removing that IP concern you can further two companies’ ability to collaborate and accelerate innovation.” Gutiérrez joined Microsoft in 1998

as a commercial attorney for the Latin America region based in Miami and later moved to Microsoft’s corporate headquarters in Redmond, Wash. He spent four years in Paris as Microsoft’s general counsel in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, where he handled legal, regulatory, and government affairs affecting the tech giant. In 2006, he returned to Redmond to head the IP division as corporate vice president and deputy general counsel. Was his career trajectory carefully

planned? “Not at all,” Gutiérrez recalls with a chuckle. “When Microsoft called me I was happily employed at a firm in Miami with big clients like Levi Strauss. I thought Microsoft was going to be my new client. I was ecstatic. When I learned they wanted me to work for them, I was thrown. It took me four months to decide to take the job. It was the best professional


decision I’ve ever made.” He recalls a happy, but unher-

alded entry. “My title was corporate attorney, a low-level position in the legal department,” he says. “And my responsibility was to negotiate license deals throughout Latin America. I spoke Spanish, had an advanced profi- ciency in Portuguese, and was familiar with technical issues, especially international ones.” He describes his four years as

Microsoft’s general counsel in Europe as phenomenal: “My focus was working in connection with a huge antitrust case. Tough extremely dif- ficult at the time, I learned and grew a lot as a lawyer. On a personal and cultural level, being based in Paris for those years was invaluable for me and my family.” What Gutiérrez most likes about

his current role at Microsoft is that it allows him to sit at the crossroads of the law, legal and regulatory policy,

and business strategy. “Tis has been my focus since I took the job and why the IP division is such a successful group within the legal department. It’s important that business and IP strategy are on the same page. Case in point: the successful acquisition of AOL’s patent portfolio and the subsequent resale of a portion of it to Facebook. Deals like this raise the profile of my division at Microsoft, and, for me, make the job so much more interesting.” Born and raised in Venezuela’s

second largest city, Maracaibo, Gutiérrez entered college at 16 and earned a bachelor of laws degree from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas. After graduating he worked in Baker & McKenzie’s Caracas office and later moved to a boutique firm where he represented mostly American and European clients. A Fulbright scholarship took him to Harvard Law School where he earned a Master of


It’s important that business and IP strategy are on the same page. Case in point: the successful acquisition of AOL’s patent portfolio and the subsequent resale of a portion of it to Facebook. Deals like this... make the job so much more interesting.


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