Katharine Wolanyk is a Managing Director at Burford Capital, a litigation finance company, with responsibility for leading Burford’s award-winning intellectual property and patent litigation finance business. The former head of Burford’s Chicago office, Ms. Wolanyk is now based in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ms. Wolanyk is an industry leader in financing intellectual property and patent litigation and writes and speaks frequently on intellectual property issues. She has been published in ABA Journal, Law360, IPWatchdog and IAM and has spoken at events including IPBC Global, EDTX Bench & Bar, American Intellectual Property Law Association, Center for American and International Law, University of Arizona and Chicago Bar Association.
Prior to joining Burford, Ms. Wolanyk was President, Chief Legal Officer and Founder of Soverain Software, an enterprise software company whose patent portfolio has been licensed extensively in the software and Internet retailing industries. Ms. Wolanyk also was intellectual property counsel to a publicly traded IT solutions firm, General Counsel of a managed hosting provider, Senior Vice President of corporate development at a publicly traded enterprise software company, a corporate attorney at Latham & Watkins, and a systems engineer at Hughes Aircraft Company, where she worked on the radar system for the stealth bomber.
Ms. Wolanyk graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and has a BS in engineering from Michigan State University.
Litigation finance in the university context is thus particularly valuable. Even for smaller matters, litigation finance shifts spend off the university’s balance sheet, allowing it to put its own capital to use in its primary endeavors: Education and innovation. For larger matters, litigation finance shifts risk from the university—which, despite its diverse technology portfolio, may have only a small number of claims with attractive litigation prospects—to an entity with a much larger book of diversified risk across uncorrelated claimants.
There are many reasons that it makes sense for companies, law firms and other entities with valuable IP assets to utilize legal finance. Most are well understood: The cost of litigation is rising, the IP landscape continues to be ever more fraught with risk, and fewer firms are willing to take IP matters on contingency… However, there’s another, less understood but quite compelling reason for IP litigants to use legal finance: Its positive impact on accounting outcomes. The accounting and financial reporting impact of litigation is clearly a pain point: The 2017 Litigation Finance Survey shows that a noteworthy 76% of in-house respondents identify as a business challenge that “ongoing legal expenses depress financial results.”
We believe that the fallout from the Court’s ruling last week will be less dire for patent owners than most commentators predict. The conventional wisdom is that TC Heartland will cause a mass exodus of patent filings from the Eastern District of Texas and other supposedly plaintiff-friendly venues to Delaware, the Northern District of California and, to a lesser extent, the other states. The assumption underlying this view is that all those plaintiffs will be forced to file in the state where the defendant is incorporated. Yet even post-TC Heartland, patent owners have options and can continue to be strategic about how and where they proceed.