I have three years of studying and work ahead of me. It’s very important for me to develop.

11 April 2024

Interview with Aleksandra Tabaka, patent attorney trainee, supporting the litigation and dispute team.

I know that you speak several languages, including Italian. Where does this affection for foreign languages come from?

My love for languages started when I was a child. My dad really motivated me to learn French, in which he is fluent. I remember that before I started reading and writing, my French teacher was already teaching me the language at home by way of play. In this way, my knowledge got consolidated. The younger the child is, the better he or she assimilates vocabulary and is definitely quicker to memorise things.

Later when I was at school I had English, of course, and the second language was up to you to choose. In my case it was Russian, from primary school through to secondary school. I was in the class with a focus on the humanities, and so I took my final exams in English and Russian at an extended level.

Anyways, the Romance languages have always been dearest to me; it started with French and then I started to think of Italian. And this was mainly the reason why I decided to study applied linguistics at the University of Warsaw with advanced English combined with Italian starting from the basics. It was an ideal option for me and this is how my adventure with the Italian language and the culture of the country began.

Is there anything you particularly like about Italy?

I think a little bit of everything. The first time I went to Italy was with my parents when I was a little girl. Later on, I went there a few more times and I was gradually absorbing it, I mean the language itself, its melodiousness, its sound, but also the culture, the landscapes and, of course, the food.

Do you remember the moment you decided to do a postgraduate course in intellectual property law? Did it come from long consideration or impulse?

On the one hand it was a coincidence, on the other it was not. I don’t think there are any coincidences in my life.

Even after my secondary school graduation, my thoughts revolved around this idea. I even applied to study a course in Krakow called Intellectual Property and New Media Law. These were three-year studies. I thought it would be nice to be involved in media and copyright law, but I wasn’t quite sure at the time what it looked like in practice. I was successful with my application, but eventually decided to study applied linguistics in Warsaw. I started my postgraduate studies in intellectual property while already working at JWP and it was a natural consequence of working at our law firm. I wanted to broaden and structure my knowledge.

And how did you find your way to JWP?

I also previously worked in a law firm, where I got the job thanks to my knowledge of Italian. This experience was my asset that contributed to me being employed at JWP. This is where my adventure with intellectual property law began.

And this field of law turned out to have absorbed me from the very beginning. Working at JWP cemented my conviction, which surfaced after my secondary school graduation, that this is what I would like to do.

Coincidence or not, but as we can see, there are times when life throws us into uncharted waters and we turn out to be great at swimming in them.

Is there any area within intellectual property law that is of particular interest to you?

Postgraduate studies and classes, which were divided into subject areas: trademarks, industrial designs, patents, copyright, personality rights, made it possible for me to channel my interests. Before that, I was not in constant contact with each of these areas.

Since then, I have been most interested in copyright and personality rights issues. Interestingly, I have noticed that in cases where, on the surface, trademarks or industrial designs seem to come into play, it turns out that copyright or personality rights can also apply. These categories often intertwine.

Currently, copyright related matters play an important role and are strongly linked to artificial intelligence, so this is the direction I am most interested in. Trademarks and industrial designs are also a very friendly area.

Please tell us about the beginnings of your work at JWP, what made you feel comfortable here? 

The beginnings were in fact challenging because it was the time of the pandemic. I remember when I came to work, what happened immediately was that several people were put in quarantine, including me. It was not possible to establish close relationships because everything was done online or by phone. But on the other hand, I never had the feeling that I was all alone dealing with things, that I didn’t know who to call. I felt looked after from the start and even though I didn’t know the team personally and the conversations took place online, I knew I had the support of the whole team and that I could always call someone and count on someone.

One such person who took me under her wing from day one was Joanna Sowińska who was then completing her patent attorney traineeship. It was Joanna who was the only one of our team in person in the office during my first day at work.  I also have very fond memories of other people from my first days at the law firm, who also helped me a lot during that first period.  I felt supported and warmly welcomed by all members of the team while Joanna naturally became the person who introduced me to the specifics of our department and, at the same time, inspired me to develop, especially as she herself at some point decided to change her career path and go into intellectual property protection.

Where did the idea to start the patent attorney traineeship come from?

I started thinking about this during my postgraduate studies, when I had the whole picture of intellectual property a bit more organised in my head.  This was more or less a year ago. I had the feeling that once my postgraduate studies were over, I wouldn’t achieve anything more if I didn’t start the traineeship. Of course, I could complete additional courses, train and improve my knowledge, but I needed to prove to myself in a clearer way that I was indeed moving forward, that I was developing.

Looking at my colleagues who are patent attorneys, I think I can handle it. There are some technical limitations, but it is nevertheless an interdisciplinary profession. You can specialise in what you feel good at, not necessarily in everything.

I pondered for a really long time, until the last minute, and I had all sorts of thoughts that maybe it was too early after all, maybe I was not ready, maybe it was not the moment… But I decided that since I was fresh from my postgraduate exams, my knowledge was most up to date at that moment and it was the best time to give it a try.

When it turned out that I passed the entrance exam I felt immense joy, but also a hint of uncertainty about whether I would be able to cope, because it is a big responsibility. I have three years of studying and work ahead of me.

How do you balance a full-time job and the traineeship? This sounds like a challenge.

I have to admit that working full-time and studying is quite a lot, but I am used to it because I started my first job when I was in my fifth year of full-time studies, and this job was also full-time. Back then, it was easier in some ways because it was the period of the pandemic and classes were online. I worked out a deal with the lecturers and would catch up on some things after work or escape for a while for a lecture online within my working hours. I then had a gap year after graduation and started postgraduate studies.
The traineeship takes place at weekends, this is obviously a burden, but if classes were held during the week, it would definitely be more difficult.

Is there any form of special leave or study leave at JWP for the period you are preparing for your exams?

Yes, there is some extra leave before the qualification exam, the final one, and the firm has a very friendly approach to such matters and indeed does cooperate with its employees who are sitting the exams.

Starting your traineeship, you had to choose a patent attorney to be your mentor. Who did you go for this role? 

I chose Tomasz Grucelski. He agreed. It was a natural choice because I had known Tomasz from the very beginning, he interviewed me, he is a patent attorney with the necessary seniority, and furthermore he has a wealth of knowledge. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from both Tomasz’s experience and that of others in the team.

 Is there anything you particularly value about working at JWP? 

Looking back over more than two years now, it is above all the opportunity to grow, as this is very important to me. And professional and buddy support, and a human approach to the employee, because everyone is treated individually here, and this is very important.

My feeling is that if something were to happen in a private or professional context, you could always turn to your boss or someone in the team for help and that help would come.
Generally the atmosphere here is friendly. Coming to work doesn’t cause stress. I come here with pleasure and look forward to seeing everyone in the office.

There is a common attitude here that “we can do it together”. It really is different in other companies, different situations happen. It depends on where you are. And at JWP, I don’t have to be stressed. Of course, there are situations, which are purely professional, that are stressful, for example, we have deadlines to meet. As far as the work atmosphere at JWP is concerned, however, it is very good indeed.

That’s very nice to hear, especially as I can say the same about myself.   

Putting professional issues aside, please tell us what are your pastimes? 

I’m interested in confectionery, it’s my second passion, which I even once contemplated as a main career path. Baking, making cakes to order or for friends, is something I really enjoy. I’m not doing that often at the moment because time doesn’t allow me to, and I don’t like to act in a hurry because then it doesn’t bring me joy. I like to have the time to focus on it from a to z and do it the way I want the baked product to look in the end.

And travelling, too, for sure.

In what style and which destinations?

Both on my own and organised travel, it depends on the situation and the destination.

When it comes to destinations, I love southern Europe. This is also somewhat related to languages. France, Italy and Spain are definitely my kind of places. Though the place I’ve been to the most times is Switzerland. This country will always remain my number one.

What do you particularly value it for? 

Mainly for the fact that it is very diverse, yet structured and simply beautiful. I think there is something for everyone, there are both mountains and Lake Geneva, beautiful landscapes and an interesting culture. All that makes up this country makes it loveable. For me, the most interesting part is the French part, where the Alps, the vineyards on the slopes of Lavaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Montreux Riviera, or the museums dedicated to chocolate and Charlie Chaplin are all within easy reach. But the German part is also beautiful, especially when it comes to the mountains. The Italian one also has its own charm, with a feeling of Italy and a typically Italian atmosphere. I highly recommend it.

Do you have any dreams that you could share now?

I would like to take a longer trip to Asia one day, for example for a month, just backpacking, to see what daily life is like there.

Professionally, of course, to make it through the three years to get to the exam and become a patent attorney.

Later on, I hope to develop further.

And as for more private plans, one day I would like to have a house near Warsaw in the woods to be close to nature.

I wish you that this will come true, everything and in its time, as you will want it to. 



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