To celebrate International Womens Day we want to acknowledge some pioneers with an intellectual property connection.

The first of these is self-made success Helena Rubinstein (1872‒1965). Rubinstein is regarded as the first self-made millionairess of modern times, having created the first publicly-listed global cosmetics corporation.

Helena’s genius for business stretched much further than the creation of the product she sold. She clearly understood how to build a brand around that product. From keeping opulent, well-staffed salons to emphasizing the use of ‘natural ingredients’, Helena knew all too well the need to create widespread fascination with her products.

And it’s in this brand building where our connection to Helena Rubinstein lays. With Helena filing her now famous VALAZE trade mark with the newly formed national Patent Office in January 1907. Now, it’s difficult to claim she was the first woman to file a trade mark, but what we can certainly say is owning registration number 3544 put her right toward the top of what would have been a very short list of women owners 110 years ago.

The National Portrait Gallery is currently displaying a newly acquired Graham Sutherland’s portrait of Helena Rubinstein. You can read more of her story on their website.

The other pioneers we want to recognise are a little closer to home. They are two of our first ever female patent examiners – Helen Taylor and Anita Walters. They were among the very first women to work in the field.

Helen Taylor started working as a temporary examiner of patents in November 1950. After that she went on to become a patent attorney with Starfield & Taylor in Sydney in the 1970s and went on to work in Britain. Later returning to Sydney and became a consultant with Shelston Walters.

Anita Walters worked in patent examination until she retired in the early to mid 1970s. She became the first female supervising examiner in the early 1970s.

Photo: Helen Taylor (seated) with her supervisor Anita Walters (standing).(photo owned by the Commonwealth)


20 December 2019