Patent & Innovation Engineer (Software)

Job post summary
Location Americas
Team Legal and Finance

About the role

About the team

Shopify’s IP Team is a small but growing part of our broader Legal Team, tasked with working closely with senior management and Shopify’s brilliant R&D teams to build Shopify’s IP portfolio (including patents and trademarks) and protect our ability to innovate.  In other words, we play defense so our R&D folks can play offense.

About You

Are you a developer or engineer with a strong software background ready for a new challenge? Or maybe you’ve tried the patent agency track but now want to get closer to the innovation action?  No matter which way you started your career, we'd love to hear from you to learn more about how you might be able to help us capture all of the innovative ideas our R&D teams generate without slowing them down.

Our mission is to identify and capture patentable ideas that can provide the greatest defensive value while doing as much of the heavy-lifting as possible so that R&D can stay laser-focused on shipping great products.  That means you are a curious and service-oriented self-starter with broad industry knowledge and deep technical background, who can speak R&D’s language and capture ideas efficiently. This is not an invention processing role - we want individuals who think big picture, who can navigate R&D roadmaps to identify promising leads and who can also encourage R&D folks to think creatively beyond what they are building, to make sure we capture each idea to its full potential.  

Success on the Shopify legal team requires intellect, humility and a sense of humour. You need to take the work seriously, but not take yourself too seriously. You also need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, able to work with many different types of personalities, really connect with people and earn their trust, and enjoy working as a team player. You will handle complicated matters with empathy and professionalism, striking a balance between legal requirements while maintaining our incredible workplace culture.

Projects you could work on:

  • Grow and manage a project funnel to identify promising technical ideas with IP potential by tapping into existing R&D tools, roadmaps, syncs and meet-ups.

  • Build relationships with R&D teams and individuals throughout Shopify to find out where we’re developing innovative tech.

  • Lead mining and ideation sessions with R&D to identify industry-firsts we should capture.

  • Experiment with new ways to capture IP that are lightweight and low-touch for R&D but highly fruitful for uncovering valuable ideas.

  • Help flesh out the technical underpinnings of each idea to improve scope and accelerate patent drafting.

  • Provide technical assistance in patent litigation matters as a proxy for R&D.


  • Broad and rich software background, from either 2+ years of experience working at a patent agency firm or 4+ years of experience as a software developer
  • An innovation mindset and ability to think creatively. 

  • Experience leading and managing projects and multiple priorities, stakeholders and deadlines.

  • The ability to both work collaboratively as part of the team and on an individual basis without a lot of guidance or oversight, always with a view towards being of service to R&D and other members of the IP team.

  • Good business judgement and relationship-building skills.

  • Strong written and interpersonal communication skills.

Bonus points if you have:

  • Experience with the patenting process.

  • Experience with Software-as-a-Service platforms, web services, and/or data platforms.

  • Experience with leading mining or ideation sessions with inventors to capture patentable ideas.

  • A broad-based understanding of the e-commerce industry.  

  • If none of the above, a curiosity and passion to develop knowledge in those areas.

IMPORTANT: don’t stop reading yet! The following section includes critical information for your application!

We know that applying to a new role takes a lot of work and we truly value your time.  In your application, please include a brief cover letter (in the “Message to Hiring Manager” text box section of the application page) that highlights your interest in our Patent & Innovation Engineer role, the depth of your software background and/or your experience with patents. Applications without this cover letter included will not be considered. Robert Guay, Senior IP Counsel, is looking forward to reading your cover letter. 

This posting will close on Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 4 PM EST.

 At Shopify, we are committed to building and fostering an environment where our employees feel included, valued, and heard. Our belief is that a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion enables us to truly make commerce better for everyone. We strongly encourage applications from Indigenous people, racialized people, people with disabilities, people from gender and sexually diverse communities and/or people with intersectional identities. Please take a look at our 2019 Sustainability Report to learn more about Shopify's commitments.