When Roxana Opris Sullivan ’05 arrives at the office each morning in Zug, Switzerland, she has emails waiting on her from Asia. She works with European attorneys during the day, then by late afternoon she’s communicating with lawyers in the United States.
As intellectual property counsel for MCM, a German company that makes high-end handbags and other fashion accessories, Sullivan spends about 75 percent of her time in anti-counterfeiting work and the remainder protecting the brand’s trademarks and designs.
“I manage the global IP portfolio — design patents, trademarks, logos, etc. We have offices in New York, Seoul, Hong Kong, Berlin, Zurich and Milan,” says Sullivan. In addition to protecting her company’s own brand, she also works collaboratively with other brands. “I recently worked on some agreements with third parties for a Nordstrom pop-in in the U.S. leading up to Black Friday and Christmas.”
Sullivan became interested in intellectual property law when she was in law school. After graduation she worked with a boutique law firm in Dallas doing prosecution, litigation and trademark filing. She continued trademark prosecution when she moved to Chicago and worked for a law firm representing Fortune 100 global companies.
“There’s a lot of strategy involved when you go after counterfeiters,” she says. “It used to be that the fake bags were on the streets. Now many of those transactions have moved online with direct sales to consumers. This makes them harder for brand owners to investigate and makes it tougher for customs officials to stop fakes at the border.”
Sullivan says her Wofford experience helped her and her husband, Jeff Sullivan ’05, decide to live and work abroad when he was offered a job with Credit Swiss. He is now with a private asset management firm that handles clients from the U.S.
“I can’t believe we’ve lived here for three years,” says Sullivan. “It was a big step for us, but it gives us so many opportunities to travel.”
Sullivan says she also has lots of opportunities to use her Spanish, and she’s also reviving her journalism training as a former Old Gold and Black editor by editing a new IP corporate newsletter.
“My biggest piece of advice for current Wofford students is to not be afraid of the unknown. Take chances. Make that uncomfortable move. And don’t be afraid of setbacks,” says Sullivan. “I’ve learned over the years that life is sometimes unpredictable and that careers are often not linear. However, if you make that strategic move and make the uncomfortable choice, the results can be pleasantly surprising.”
By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington '89