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Shabnam Malek has a broad practice but takes greatest pleasure in advising clients on how best to grow, navigate risk, resolve disputes, and how to think creatively in balancing business needs and legal concerns. Shabnam is recognized as an expert in the field of cannabis intellectual property and clients and colleagues seek her out for her expertise in addressing particularly thorny and novel legal issues. She’s a creative thinker looking for solutions that help her clients succeed. Shabnam truly enjoys the role of counselor to start-ups, woman-owned companies, large, global companies as well individuals.
Shabnam is a co-founder and the founding President of the International Cannabis Bar Association. Today, INCBA boasts a membership base of over 700 individual attorney members and a strong international presence. She currently sits on the governing board of INCBA and helps plan the educational curriculum of the organization with a focus on INCBA’s flagship event, the Cannabis Law Institute. Shabnam is also the Chair of the PLI Cannabis Business Law program and an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Shabnam recently joined the editorial board of Law360’s Cannabis Editorial Advisory Board.
In addition to serving the business community, Shabnam developed a robust pro bono practice representing imprisoned women before the California Board of Parole Hearings as well as representing houseless San Francisco residents through the Coalition on Homelessness.
Shabnam regularly speaks and writes on the topics of trademarks, brand expansion, regulated industries such as cannabis and hemp, and the role of women in creating change. Her professional affiliations include holding a seat on the Board of Directors of the International Cannabis Bar Association and a committee role with the International Trademark Association. She is an active member of the California Lawyers' Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Lawyers Guild, the Queen’s Bench, and the Bar Association of San Francisco. Shabnam was named a Northern California Rising Star three years in a row by Super Lawyers Magazine.
Evoke Law, PC
Mary Shapiro, Managing Director of Evoke Law, PC, based in San Francisco, California, is an intellectual property attorney specializing in trademark, consumer protection, copyright, and internet law.
For 20 years prior to her legal career, Mary served in a variety of marketing positions in the book industry, including roles in retail, distribution and publishing. Mary started her legal career in 1999 at Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP. There, Mary supported businesses in a variety of industries: technology, medical device, pharmaceutical, wineries, non-profit foundations, and consumer products.
Her cannabis practice began in earnest in 2009, offering specialized legal services in intellectual property and consumer protection. Mary strives to assist cannabis operators in selecting strong and enforceable brand names, with her day-to-day work encompassing clearing, filing, prosecuting, enforcing, and licensing trademarks in the U.S. and internationally.
In 2016, Mary rebranded the firm to Evoke Law, continuing to specialize in serving the cannabis industry. By registering brands and enforcing intellectual property rights, businesses are positioned to expand their brands nationally and globally. In the consumer protection arena, Evoke Law guides cannabis operators through the complex compliance issues associated with packaging and labeling, recalls, and advertising. The firm encourages clients to carefully view each decision from the vantage point of its overall marketing strategies and business objectives, as well as the company’s risk tolerance level.
Mary has been a leader in bridging intellectual property law, state cannabis regulations, and the cannabis marketplace. In 2015, Mary was a founding Board member of the National Cannabis Bar Association (NCBA), which now has over 700 active members. She currently serves as the Board Secretary, co-chairs the organization’s worldwide expansion (as the International Cannabis Bar Association (INCBA), and is in a leadership role in the Continuing Legal Education program. In 2016-2017, Mary collaborated with industry advocacy groups and fellow legal colleagues, to persuade the California Secretary of State to allow registration of trademarks for cannabis products and services. In early 2018, with the assistance of a technical advisor and expert witness testimony, Evoke Law provided the USPTO with irrefutable scientific evidence that the mature stalks do indeed produce CBD in appreciable quantities without the commingling from other plant parts, including any ‘resinous’ secretions, which debunked the USPTO’s incorrect internal position on this matter, and resulted in the federal registration of a client’s trademark for a hemp-derived product.
Evoke Law provides pro bono assistance to Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access, California Cannabis Industry Association, International Cannabis Bar Association, and Cannabis Marketing Association. Mary is also a First 50 supporter of Women Grow, and regularly speaks at industry conferences including MJBiz, NCIA, CCIA, INCBA, Women Grow, and Emerald Cup.
Jason Moscovici is a partner, lawyer and biochemist with ROBIC, LLP, a multidisciplinary intellectual property law firm from Quebec, Canada. His IP practice specializes in regulated industries such as food, alcohol, cannabis, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics, natural health products, advertising and consumer products.
Jason’s focus on the valorization and enforcement of intellectual property, as well as the numerous compliance issues that orbit regulated industries, have allowed him to quickly become one of the most trusted legal advisors to the emerging cannabis industry. His perspectives on compliance, intellectual property and the commercial hurdles related specifically to cannabis are routinely solicited by stakeholders in this space.
Jason leads ROBIC`s cannabis group and sits on the life sciences committee of the firm.
Dale C. Hunt, PhD, JD, provides guidance and expertise on patents and intellectual property matters. Dale has extensive experience with patent protection, with a technical emphasis in life sciences (cellular biology, genetics, genomics, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, pharmaceuticals, protein engineering, stem cells, transgenics and vaccines); environmental technology (alternative energy, carbon-emissions credits and exchanges, oil and gas technologies, solar energy, natural products and water purification systems); materials and manufacturing (filters and filtration systems, metal fibers and alloys); medical devices and procedures (nucleic acid diagnostics, sensors and instrumentation and surgical devices and methods); and plants (agriculture, plant genetics, plant patents and plant-variety protection). Dale also has experience with patent portfolio management and strategy advice, international intellectual property matters, right-to-practice and product-launch opinions, intellectual property due diligence, and licensing.
Dale also started a Cannabis IP practice to aid clients in establishing strong intellectual property protection for their legal marijuana strains, products and businesses. The approaches to such protection include U.S. plant patents and utility patents; state and common-law trademark strategies, protection, and enforcement; and federal trademark protection for federally legal allied products and services. His expertise also extends to other forms of protection for Cannabis businesses, including licensing of intellectual property, which can encompass protection of know-how and trade secrets related to cultivation and processing techniques; international plant breeders’ rights and related commercialization and enforcement strategies; as well as various other approaches that have been successful for his clients in the fruit and floral markets but which Cannabis companies have yet to attempt.
Having started as a botanist and plant geneticist, Dale continued his study of plant biology at the cellular and molecular level, completing a PhD at UC San Diego. Dale then went on to UC Berkeley for law school. In addition to his diverse patent practice as described above, he has worked his entire career helping clients protect and commercialize their proprietary plant varieties in the U.S. and over 20 foreign countries. Dale has spoken on IP protection at the Marijuana Business Convention in Washington, D.C. He has also been interviewed for and quoted in numerous news articles and by national media outlets on the topic of marijuana and patenting.
Drawn to intellectual property law from the moment I first encountered it in law school, I began my career in Big Law with a focus on intellectual property litigation and transactions, representing a variety of global brands.
Amanda R. Conley is the founder of Conley Law, a boutique intellectual property and advertising law firm. She helps creative entrepreneurs across a variety of industries protect, leverage, and enforce their intellectual property. Amanda specializes in helping clients navigate highly-regulated industries such as cannabis, hemp, dietary supplements, and new and emerging technologies. She also advises on advertising, marketing, website, and labeling compliance in addition to providing general transactional legal services.
Prior to founding Conley Law, Amanda was a founding partner at Brand & Branch LLP and co-founder of the International Cannabis Bar Association. She runs the Provisors Bay Area Cannabis Affinity Group, and is an active member of the California Lawyers Association.
Amanda graduated from New York University School of Law after getting an MA in Sociology at the University of Colorado. Before attending law school, Amanda researched and published in the field of quantitative demography, and taught undergraduate-level sociology courses.
Michael is a barrister and solicitor called to the bar of the Province of Alberta and is also a registered Canadian and U.S. Patent Agent and a registered Canadian TradeMark Agent.
Michael is the past Chair of the Technology and Intellectual Property Law Section – North Alberta Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, as well as a member of the Law Society of Alberta, Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, and past member of the Licensing Executives Society.
Before becoming a lawyer, Michael graduated from the University of Alberta with a M.Sc. in medical genetics, specializing in the molecular pathogenesis of developmental glaucoma. He then attended law school in order to pursue a career in IP Law.
Preferred Areas of Practice:
Intellectual Property (IP) Law including: Patents, Trademarks, Designs, Copyrights, Associated IP Contractual Agreements and IP Litigation
Luke Zimmerman, Esq. LL.M. founded the Law Office of Luke S Zimmerman APC in 2013 and focuses his practice on assisting clients with trademark, copyright, and other intellectual property related issues.
Luke founded the intellectual property section at Oaksterdam University and regularly teache at the school. He has written articles for a variety of cannabis publications on the issues of intellectual property. He is also a regular speaker at cannabis events and has lectured internationally about emerging intellectual property issues in the global cannabis industry. Luke was identified as a subject matter expert in the field of intellectual property by the CDFA and participated on the Appellations of Origin working group. He is also a life-time member of the National Cannabis Bar Association.
Luke believes there is a need for drug policy reform in the United States, which is why he offered pro bono representation, through the 2014 Clemency Project, to a federal inmate serving a life sentence for criminal charges related to a nonviolent drug offense. He was successful in assisting the inmate to receive a commutation from President Barack Obama.
Luke holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Oregon, a Juris Doctor from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and a Masters of Laws focused on international trade and investment law from the University of Amsterdam. Luke is currently enrolled in a Masters of Laws program focused on international intellectual property at ITC-ILO School of Development, a member of the WIPO Academy, in Turin Italy researching issues relating to the international harmonization of the Nice Classification System as it relates to cannabis trademarks.
Dr. Marcelo Pomeranz’s practice focuses on the development and execution of world-wide intellectual property strategies for biotech and pharmaceutical companies. He has extensive experience in securing, defending, and challenging patents to provide clients with the necessary protection and freedom to operate to monetize their inventions. He has extensive technical experience in plant biology, RNA silencing, CRISPR gene editing, strain engineering, plant-derived medicines, molecular biology and systems biology. Marcelo is also an expert in cannabinoid biology and chemistry, representing clients in all areas of cannabinoid research, including cannabis and hemp breeding and genetics, cannabinoid and terpene biosynthesis, synthetic cannabinoid chemistry, cannabinoid and terpene extraction and detection, and cannabinoid formulation and pharmacology. He successfully secured the first patents to THC-containing plants in the US, Canada, and Europe. He holds a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. Marcelo's doctoral research focused on elucidating mechanisms for AU-rich mediated RNA degradation and the formation of RNA processing bodies and stress granules in plants. After his graduate work, he undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at The Ohio State University Center for Applied Sciences and the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center. His postdoctoral work focused on the discovery of gene regulatory networks and developmental expression programs using next-generation sequencing and mathematical modeling. Marcelo was awarded the American Bar Association's Award for Excellence in intellectual property law. He has authored and co-authored numerous publications appearing in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, The Plant Journal, Plant Physiology and Plant Signal Behavior.
Natalie Rizkalla-Kamel is a Toronto-based Gowling WLG partner specializing in intellectual property litigation, trademark prosecution, strategic global trademark portfolio management, and transactional intellectual property work.
Natalie has a broad range of experience in all aspects of IP litigation at all levels of Court, with a focus on contentious work in the areas of patents, trademarks, and copyright. She has acted for clients from various industries, including: retail, cosmetics, manufacturing, cannabis, financial services, and pharmaceuticals. She is dedicated to understanding her clients' business interests and goals, developing an effective litigation strategy, and advising them toward favourable outcomes in each case.
Natalie is also a registered trademark agent in Canada, and her practice involves advising clients with both small and large portfolios on the acquisition, protection, and enforcement of their trademark rights in Canada and globally.
Given the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada in 2018, Natalie has also developed a niche practice at Gowling WLG in the cannabis sector. She assists Canadian cannabis clients in developing brand strategies, and has been called on to represent clients in trademark disputes (both in and out of court) with respect to their cannabis brands in Canada. She has also has assisted clients with numerous manufacturing and licensing transactions in the cannabis space. Natalie has actively published and presented about cannabis branding and trademarks, and was recently interviewed by the World Trademark Review about brand strategy and trends for cannabis within the Canadian landscape for an article entitled, "Cannabis retailers have their work cut out for them in terms of trademark and brand strategy" (April 30, 2021).
Natalie is an active member of the IP community, and participates in writing on new developments in intellectual property law. She also serves on the committees of several professional associations, including the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, the Canadian Bar Association (Intellectual Property Section), and the International Trademark Association. She also sits on the CLE Board, and is vice-chair of the International Action Group of the American Bar Association (Intellectual Property Section).
In 2017, Natalie was named a Lexpert "Rising Star: Leading Lawyer Under 40" for being at the top of the legal profession in Canada, as well as in recognition of her professional achievements and contributions to the community. She is consistently ranked as a World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) Leader, and was most recently ranked in World Trademark Review 1000 (2022), the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory (2022) for Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Litigation, Chambers Canada 2023 for Intellectual Property and Best Lawyers in Canada 2023.
Prior to joining Gowling WLG, Natalie received an MSc in Civil Engineering from Queen's University, under a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) scholarship, and worked as a structural engineer. She is licensed as a Professional Engineer (PEng) in Ontario.
Hannah Stitt is an intellectual property litigator and partner at Tectonic, LLP (based in San Francisco, California). She resolves disputes for owners and executives related to brands, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, consumer protection and privacy claims in California's state and federal courts. She represents domestic and international clients before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Ms. Stitt has served cannabis industry clients since before the regulated market emerged in California. Over the years as the industry grew, her legal practice transitioned from transactional and compliance work into intellectual property and business litigation. Ms. Stitt was an essential member of the INCBA Ethics Committee from January 2018 through December 2022, instructing other attorneys on how to provide services to the cannabis industry without jeopardizing their law practices and developing policy in individual jurisdictions designed to protect attorneys serving the industry. Her advice and counsel has shaped the market.
Ms. Stitt attended U.C. Davis for her undergraduate education, earning degrees in both Religious Studies and Film Studies. She graduated from U.C. Hastings College of the Law in 2015 with a concentration in intellectual property law. She has been named a Northern California Rising Star by her colleagues in the legal profession continuously since 2019 (a distinction granted to less than 2.5% of lawyers).
Please send her a message through tectoniclaw.com.