Skip to main content

Ashkan Alavi on IP Law and his career goals

December 18, 2023


Ashkan Alavi can pinpoint the moment he set his sights on a career in scientific research.

While watching the documentary Einstein’s Universe – a 1979 production commissioned to mark 100 years since the birth of probably the world’s most famous scientist – the teenaged Alavi could feel his burgeoning passion for math and physics begin the process of solidifying into a professional ambition.

“I was absolutely fascinated and inspired by that film,” Alavi says.

In the following years, he earned an undergraduate degree in physics, before pursuing a Ph.D. in the subject, with a focus on high energy and particle physics.

However, by the late 1990s, Alavi was able to picture a future for himself outside academia, eager as he was to get involved with the technology boom precipitated by the development of the internet.

His subsequent move to Canada – then a global telecommunications hotspot – gave Alavi a chance to put his skills to more practical use in a series of engineering roles for companies designing and implementing innovative techniques in the high-tech field of fiber-optics. 

Even as the focus of his career has changed, Alavi has managed to maintain a connection to his scientific hero Einstein, who spent the early years of his professional life working as a technical expert at the Swiss patent office, reviewing applicants’ inventions for their patentability.

“When you’ve worked as an engineer for a number of years, some people move up to become managers or directors, and others move to different aspects of the business, like sales or marketing. In my case, I was drawn to IP and patents, because it’s an area where you need to have a very strong technical background and you also have to build legal expertise on top of that, so I took on the challenge” he explains.

As part of his plan for career development, Alavi began exploring options to round out his IP law knowledge, to complement his practical experience with patents and trademarks.   

OsgoodePD’s part-time Professional LLM in IP Law quickly stood out as the clear choice, and not just because of the program’s flexibility, which allowed him to fit classes in around his work schedule at the same time as having a full-time job and supporting his elderly parents through health problems.

“It was a very busy time, but the program was a lot of fun and educational at the same time. I have a passion for learning, so I will take any chance I get to jump on that wagon,” he says.

Since his 2015 graduation, Alavi has taken up IP advisory roles in various start-ups. Currently, he is serving as  senior manager of patent technology for TDBank Group , one of North America’s most active financial institutions in the thriving FinTech space in North America, as measured by volume of patent applications.

“There is a lot of innovation going on at the bank around many technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Alavi says. “The mandate of our small group is to build up and protect those IP assets. It’s a very strategic work.”

According to Alavi, one of the highlights of his Osgoode experience was the chance to meet and learn from both his instructors and classmates – a professionally diverse group that included lawyers and law graduates with an interest in IP law, as well as senior professionals without previous legal training, but extensively experienced in the IP field.

“I came out of the program a more confident person. I’ve worked for a long time in the area of patents, but it’s great to have that degree on top to back up your credentials,” Alavi says.

Wondering if the Professional LLM is right for you? Get information on course requirements, application dates, tuition and more!