Dirk Kromm started his career in intellectual property (IP) with a fascination with engineering and physics, for which he holds a university degree. With his certifications in German and EU patent and trademark law, respectively, he has worked in numerous industrial organizations and intellectual property law firms, with particular emphasis on the automotive field.
Dirk Kromm exercised his intellectual property and engineering skills as Senior Patent Advisor for one of the world’s leading manufacturers of brake systems for commercial and rail vehicles and did the same as Director of intellectual property in a globally successful automotive company. Dirk Kromm first joined Dennemeyer & Associates as a consultant before returning to his legal roots. Today, as Patent Manager for Dennemeyer & Associates’ Munich office, a position he has achieved after eight of his nine years with the firm, he combines the original thinking of an engineer with in-depth knowledge of ‘an expert in intellectual property law. .
Dennemeyer’s Munich office is located in the heart of the European intellectual property industry, a short walk from the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) and the European Patent Office (EPO). Under the guidance of Dirk Kromm and other seasoned professionals, we are confident in our ability to provide you with a full range of legal and intellectual property management services for your patents and other intangible assets. [This interview
has been edited and condensed for clarity.]
What is your favorite intellectual property work that you have been involved in?
I had the opportunity to turn a large American electronics manufacturing company into one of our biggest clients, and have worked with them for almost three years now. It was a real challenge at the start. We manage national portfolios for various parent company entities, making us the single point of contact for multiple jurisdictions – Germany, China, Australia, India and others – primarily for patent filing and prosecution. We started with a small team, but have grown over the years, working internationally through our overseas offices or with partner organizations. It can be difficult, but it is always rewarding.
What is the most difficult problem you have encountered in your field of intellectual property?
I am used to working specifically as a patent attorney, and now that I have more responsibility for product management and oversight, it has been a challenge to make this transition. For example, we have several proprietary software projects going on, and I find them particularly tested because they are so far removed from the typical job of a patent attorney – but they are vital.
It has not been easy to transition from the typical job of a patent attorney to overseeing product development and managing some of Dennemeyer’s proprietary software projects. Still, it was worth it when it comes to keeping customers happy and building a strong team that shares your success and supports you every step of the way.
how do you define success?
First and foremost, you need to keep your customers happy. If you don’t have a good relationship with them, you are not successful. And of course you have to be profitable, but above all we work for the customers. When I measure success, I have to do it against customer expectations, and it’s about teamwork, too. I work with a large team – over 30 other lawyers, paralegals, engineers, other professionals – and we can only be successful if team morale and commitment are strong. Teamwork also always depends on strong personal relationships.
I have to be clear that I don’t measure success as my own success. It’s all about the success of my team, and I think I’m a good team manager.
What three words would you use to describe the Munich office of Dennemeyer & Associates?
It is centralized, international and global.
If you could change jobs with someone else in the company, what job would you want and why?
I think it would be fascinating to accept the work of a newcomer to the intellectual property field and to take up these initial challenges again at a very different time than I experienced them. Or anyone new to intellectual property. For example, there is an intern on my team who is just beginning her career – she is about to become an assistant to a certified patent attorney. Starting over in a role like this would be more difficult today than it was 30 years ago.
The focus was only on DPMA and EPO when I started. Everything is now much more international, so you have to work in several languages, which is only the tip of the iceberg!
What is the most important trend that you see in intellectual property today?
It’s easy: digitizing virtually every aspect of our profession. Everything is digital – wherever you go, whatever you see, whatever you read, whatever client you’re working with. Without a computer, you can’t do much over IP. For example, it is rare to receive a purely mechanical invention disclosure from a client. There is usually some electronics involved, and more often than not, these are partially computer-implemented inventions.
Additionally, while not specifically a trend, it should be noted that the competitive situation in the market is much more fierce than it ever has been.
Dirk Kromm is not just an average dancer, he has broadened his skills to include many different dance styles, even freestyle! He loves to be on the floor and move around with music.
What is your optimal career outside of the legal profession or intellectual property?
I tackled a few remodeling projects around the house not too long ago which made me realize that I also love working with my hands, not just my brain. Once I quit working in IP, I would honestly love to work with my hands, and it can take a lot of forms – carpentry, masonry, things like that. Although an exception is that while I am intrigued by old cars from time to time, spending hours tinkering is not something high on my list.
What might people be surprised to learn about you?
It has been said that I am quite a good dancer, not only in standard or Latin dance, but also in more freestyle dance. I was in a dance club when I was younger and learned all kinds of styles, and I still love it. I like to move!
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