Catherine Klima is Intellectual Property Counsel at Continental Automotive Systems, Inc., which develops technologies for mobility, ranging from autonomous vehicle innovation to improvements for fuel efficiency and safety. Because the automotive industry is rapidly changing, the body of law surrounding it is similarly constantly evolving. Catherine, a lifelong learner, enjoys the challenge each new day brings. She supports Continental's IP needs with a focus on patents, and also Standard Essential Patents and issues related to AI. Her days are balanced between the steadiness of managing a patent docket and handling unexpected legal challenges that frequently arise. "It keeps my days exciting and fresh," she says. Catherine's natural curiosity and openness to new challenges are what led her to the practice of law. Before beginning her legal career, she worked as an engineer and, during that time, one of her ideas became a patent application filed by her then-employer. In speaking to the patent attorney prosecuting the application, she learned about the practice of patent law and it sparked her interest. She looked into it further, and ended up deciding to pursue law school to become a patent attorney. Now, she continues to satisfy her appetite for learning through her work at Continental, with new developments in autonomous vehicle technologies emerging every day, and by learning extensively about other evolving technologies that interest her, such as AI, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and cryptography. Strengths Catherine's ability to grasp new issues serves her well as she advises multiple business units on emerging and unsettled areas of law. Additionally, Catherine excels at identifying institutional inefficiencies and developing solutions. Continental is a German-based company, and she recently had the opportunity to spend a month at Continental's offices in Germany. During that time, she keenly noticed ways that the partnership between the company's U.S. and Germany branches could be more effective. She developed and delivered resources to improve those inefficiencies, presented them to multiple stakeholders, and helped the company use its time and resources more efficiently. Accomplishments Catherine rose to the position of Shareholder at Schwegman, Lundberg, & Woessner in Minneapolis, while raising three children—no small feat, while simultaneously serving as president of the Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association. Now, in her position at Continental, she continues to be a leader. In 2019 she was an invited panelist for two CLE events focused on the legal implications of emerging technologies, lending her expertise on issues related to driverless vehicles, AI, and 5G wireless technology. Catherine also serves on the Board of ChiWIP and was Chair of ChiWIP's Professional Development Committee for three years. In that role, she put together several unique and well attended CLE events, with her favorites being on topics related to Blockchain as well as Diversity and Inclusion. Promoting the Success of Women One of the reasons Catherine has devoted so much time and energy to ChiWIP is that, in her view, it is "by far the best in creating an environment that encourages promotion of each other. I've never seen it anywhere else." She is committed to being a part of that culture. It has always been important to Catherine to support other women. From her work at Continental to her personal life, Catherine seeks out ways to open doors for women of all ages. Some of her colleagues have daughters who are interested in STEM and IP, and she arranged for them to have a tour of Continental's labs and meet some of the engineers. "It was such an easy thing to do and it made such an impact on the women," she said. She is continually asking herself what she can do to add value to women rising up in STEM and in IP, and she successfully puts those ideas into action. Interests Outside of work, Catherine spends a lot of time at hockey rinks, as she is a self-described "hockey mom." She is also an accomplished musician who plays soprano flute, bass flute, oboe, handbells and piano. Catherine currently performs as part of a flute choir and handbell choir, and also is a dedicated volunteer at her church.
top of page
bottom of page