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Catherine M. Polizzi

Polizzi, Catherine M.


Palo Alto, (650) 813-5651


University of Mississippi (B.A., 1976)
University of California, Santa Barbara (M.A., 1978)
University of California, Santa Barbara (Ph.D., 1990)
Stanford Law School (J.D., 1994)

Bar Admissions

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

Intellectual versatility combined with incisive, pragmatic counseling and business acumen has become the hallmark of Dr. Catherine Polizzi's practice.

Dr. Polizzi helps emerging and established companies through the challenging process of obtaining patents, providing strategic, effective portfolio counseling and management, as well as strategic advice surrounding freedom of operation and other forms of IP assessment. She develops valuable, strategic portfolios around breakthrough therapies in a variety of areas, including cancer, cancer immunotherapy, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. She also has significant experience in a wide spectrum of technology areas, including biologics (such as antibodies and polypeptides), nucleic acids, personalized medicine, diagnostics, T cell technologies such as chimeric antigen receptors, drug formulation technologies, drug delivery technologies such as nanotechnologies, microfluidics, drug screening systems, amplification technologies, genetic screening, regenerative medicine, nutraceuticals, nanotechnology, spectroscopy, and organic chemistry including small molecule drugs. Her unique background, ability to integrate IP with a given business model to translate to meaningful risk assessment and advice, and highly effective communication skills in critical settings such as R&D, all phases of product development, and investment contexts, enable Dr. Polizzi to provide effective, creative solutions to the significant challenges often faced by clients.

Dr. Polizzi's practice also includes due diligence evaluation and counseling in the context of venture investment assessments, and in connection with public and private financing, spin-offs, partnerships, and mergers and acquisitions. Representative transactions resulting from Dr. Polizzi’s leadership include Celgene Corporation’s $2.9 billion acquisition of client Abraxis BioScience; over $225 million investment by Pfizer in client Medivation, Inc.; Pfizer’s acquisition of client Rinat Neuroscience; and TOPICA Pharmaceuticals’ $27 million Series B financing.

In addition to helping create value and commercialize her clients’ technologies, Dr. Polizzi devises strategies and defenses to fortify their patents in the event of legal challenges by competitors. Accordingly, she renders advice on all aspects of patent positioning, including opinions on patentability, validity, freedom of operation, infringement, and competitor IP evaluation. She also works in the area of third-party challenges such as inter partes review (IPR) and oppositions. She is a key member of litigation teams.

Dr. Polizzi is patent counsel to numerous publicly-traded and privately-held companies, with many new client relationships resulting from her strong reputation in the life sciences industry. Genentech, the world’s first and most successful biotechnology company, relies on Dr. Polizzi’s strategic patent counseling and prosecution services for its most difficult and challenging patent matters. Her work involves developing overall patent strategy, patent application drafting, and prosecution for key technologies. Her high-value work for Genentech also includes strategic assessment of key and novel technologies as well as patent litigation support and advisement.

Dr. Polizzi has been Medivation’s trusted outside patent counsel for more than a decade and created its initial patent strategy and portfolio. Dr. Polizzi also oversees additional promising drug candidates in Medivation’s pipeline. She led the IP due diligence team for Medivation’s acquisition of BioMarin’s phase III cancer drug, talazoparib, for $410 million upfront with another $160 million in milestones.

Dr. Polizzi has worked with Abraxis BioScience for many years on patent strategy, drafting, and prosecution to help develop the IP position for the highly successful cancer drug, Abraxane. Dr. Polizzi counseled the company through its $2.9 billion acquisition by Celgene Corporation, including providing significant IP strategy and due diligence counseling. This IP platform was a major component of the valuation of the company. Dr. Polizzi now also represents Celgene as its counsel for the Abraxis patent portfolio as well as for other matters.

Additional representative clients include clinical-stage and start-up companies such as SQZ Biotechnologies, Arsia Therapeutics, Dynavax Technologies, Medivation, Jounce Therapeutics, Counsyl, SDCmaterials, and Oncothyreon. She also advises Juno Therapeutics, one of the best-funded start-ups in biotechnology history now a publicly-traded company, on patent strategy and prosecution.

From 2006 through 2009, Dr. Polizzi served as the chair of the firm’s Patent Prosecution & Counseling Group and co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Group. She is ranked by Chambers USA 2015 in Life Sciences: IP/Patent Litigation. Chambers has noted that Dr. Polizzi “adds great depth to the firm’s patent’s expertise” and that clients view her as an “extremely bright and responsive” attorney. Dr. Polizzi has also received the following awards and accolades:

  • Recognized in the IAM Patent 1000 – The World’s Leading Patent Practitioners 2014 and 2015
  • Managing Intellectual Property – Top 250 Women in IP (2013–2014)
  • Selected as one of the Top 25 IP Portfolio Managers in California by the Daily Journal for 2009–2015
  • Named to The Recorder’s 2013 and 2015 Women Leaders in Tech Law list for demonstrating leadership and expertise in solving the most pressing legal concerns tech companies can face
  • Recommended as a leading lawyer by Legal 500 U.S. for 2015 
  • Recognized as a “Life Science Star” by LMG Life Sciences in 2012, 2013 and 2014
  • Selected as one of the 100 most influential women in Silicon Valley for 2013 by the Silicon Valley Business Journal
  • Recognized in the “Lawyers to the Innovators” section of the 2013 edition of the Financial Times U.S. Innovative Lawyers report
  • Recognized as a leader by Euromoney Legal Media Group and received its 2013 Americas Women in Business Law Award for best in life sciences
  • Named to the 2012–2015 Northern California Super Lawyers list

Additionally, while earning her J.D. at Stanford, Dr. Polizzi was a recipient of the Hilmer Oehlmann, Jr. Award for Legal Research and Writing.