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Date(s) - Wed 09/08/2021 - Fri 09/10/2021
All Day


September 8-10, 2021

This year’s SFIPLA Annual Seminar will take place September 8-10, with two mid-day virtual discussion panels each day. We are looking forward to offering three days of learning for IP professionals. CLE credit provided for all educational sessions, including six hours for the six virtual sessions.

Annual Seminar Registration: Includes access to all six virtual discussions, hosted via Zoom by SFIPLA.

  • In-House Counsel Rate (NEW!): $125
  • Early Bird Registration (through September 3): $375
  • Student Registration: $50
  • Standard Registration: $395

Unfortunately, given the ongoing pandemic situation, we have made the decision to postpone the in-person portion of the event and the ethics presentation by Michelle Galloway to a future date. We look forward to welcoming everyone to an in-person event once conditions allow.

2021 Annual Seminar Program






11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Judges’ Panel: Conversation on IP Litigation

A discussion with judges about intellectual property issues in federal court litigation, moderated by Robert A. McFarlane, Hanson Bridgett LLP.


  • James Donato – United States District Court, Northern District of California
  • Alan Albright – United States District Court, Western District of Texas
  • Elizabeth Laporte – JAMS; United States District Court, Northern District of California (ret.)


12:30 p.m.-1:00 p.m.: 30 Minute Virtual Networking Event




11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Patent Year in Review

Looking back on this year’s important patent decisions and issues.


  • James Isbester – Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton


12:00pm-12:30pm: 30 Minute Networking Event


12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Fireside Chat with Former Director Iancu


  • Andrei Iancu — Former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in conversation with Kira Alvarez, Vice President, ViacomCBS




11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Trademark Year in Review

Recent cases and issues in trademark law.


  • John Welch – Wolf, Greenfield & Sachs, P.C.


12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: NFTs and IP – A New Frontier.

The event will be a panel discussion discussing the recent rise of non-fungible tokens (NFT) and related IP issues from in-house and practitioner perspectives.  The panel will discuss how the minting and sales of NFTs relate to copyrights in the underlying work, fair use defenses, trademark rights in NFTs, rights of publicity to individuals depicted in NFTs, appropriate licensing structures for minting NFTs—among other related topics.   The panel will also discuss recent developments in NFT-related litigation.

  • Sarah Bruno, Partner, Reed Smith
  • Luke Nikas, Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
  • Scott Shipman, Chief Legal Officer, Dapper Labs
  • Jordan Jaffe, Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP (moderator)


1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Hot Topics in Copyright Law 


  • Eric Goldman – Professor of Law, and Co-Director of the High Tech Law Institute, at Santa Clara University School of Law.



Speakers and Topics:

  • Andrei Iancu, Former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in conversation with Kira Alvarez, Vice President, ViacomCBS

Andrei Iancu is a partner at Irell & Manella LLP.  He previously served as the undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a position to which he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate.

As head of the USPTO, Andrei oversaw one of the largest IP offices in the world, an agency with approximately 13,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $3.5 billion. He also served as the administration’s principal advisor on domestic and international IP issues. Among Andrei’s initiatives as director was the creation of the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, a group of industry, academia and government leaders tasked with helping the USPTO develop a comprehensive national strategy to broaden participation in the innovation ecosystem demographically, geographically and economically.

Kira Alvarez serves as a Vice President at ViacomCBS where she provides legislative support and strategic guidance on intellectual property, international trade, tax and other issues of importance to ViacomCBS and its divisions, which include the Paramount Pictures, Viacom Networks (MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon), CBS and Simon & Shuster. She also serves as liaison to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and is a bilingual Spanish-speaker.  Ms. Alvarez earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, her MSFS from Georgetown University, and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

  • John Welch, Wolf, Greenfield & Sachs, P.C. – Trademark Year in Review

John Welch is a partner at Wolf, Greenfield & Sachs P.C., where he has represented clients in scores of patent, trademark, copyright, unfair competition and domain name lawsuits across the country, and has handled hundreds of opposition and cancellation proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

  • Judges Panel Moderated by Robert A. McFarlane, Hanson Bridgett LLP, featuring

o   Hon. Alan Albright (USDC Western District of Texas)

o   Hon. James Donato (USDC Northern District of California)

o   Hon. Elizabeth D. Laporte (USDC Northern District of California (ret.))

Hon. Alan Albright is a federal district court judge for the Western District of Texas, Waco Division. Judge Albright earned his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law and clerked for The Honorable James R. Nowlin in Austin, Texas. From 1992–99, he served as a Magistrate Judge. Prior to taking the district court bench in 2018, Judge Albright practiced IP litigation as a partner in the Austin office of Bracewell, LLP. He has been inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Hon. James Donato is a federal district judge for the Northern District of California and has served in the position since 2014.  Prior to taking the bench he was a partner at Shearman & Sterling LLP and, before that at Cooley LLP.  He also served as Deputy City Attorney, San Francisco, and was a law clerk to Hon. Procter R. Hug, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California in Berkeley, his Master’s degree from Harvard University and his J.D. from Stanford University.

Hon. Elizabeth D. Laporte (Ret.) joined JAMS in 2019 after serving for more than two decades as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California. Judge Laporte was Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California from 2013 to 2015.  Prior to taking the bench, Judge Laporte served as Chief of Special Litigation, San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, was an Administrative Law Judge for the California Department of Insurance, a partner at Turner & Brorby, 1983–1991, and a law clerk to Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel, Northern District of California.  Judge Laporte earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, her Master’s Degree as a Marshall Scholar from Oxford University, and her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Rob McFarlane is the President of the SFIPLA.  He is a litigation partner at Hanson Bridgett LLP where he chairs the Technology Practice and co-chairs the Intellectual Property Practice.  He is a registered patent attorney whose practice concentrates on patent litigation, trade secret and other intellectual property and technology-related disputes and counseling.  He teaches patent law and patent litigation classes as an adjunct professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and at Golden Gate University School of Law.  He received his J.D. from Hastings and his BAS in Industrial Engineering and Political Science from Stanford University.

  • Jamie Isbester, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP – Patent Year in Review

James “Jamie” Isbester has been advising and representing clients in intellectual property and technology-related matters since 1987. Although his clients span the business world, most of his work is on behalf of high technology and medical device companies. Mr. Isbester was listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in 2021 and the four years immediately preceding for Intellectual Property Litigation. He has been recognized as a Northern California “Super Lawyer” in the areas of Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Litigation each year since 2006 by Super Lawyers magazine. Mr. Isbester was named a top patent practitioner in 2019, 2020 and 2021 by IAM Patent 1000 – The World’s Leading Patent Practitioners and he is AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

  • Prof. Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University School of Law – Copyright Year in Review

Eric Goldman is a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law in the Silicon Valley. He also co-directs the High Tech Law Institute and supervises the Privacy Law Certificate. He joined the Santa Clara Law faculty in 2006.

His research and teaching focuses on Internet, IP and advertising law topics, and he blogs on these topics at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog []. Managing IP magazine has twice named him to a shortlist of North American “IP Thought Leaders,” and he has been named an “IP Vanguard” by the California State Bar’s IP Section.

  • Sarah Bruno, Partner, Reed Smith; Luke Nikas, Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP; Scott Shipman, Chief Legal Officer, Dapper Labs; Jordan Jaffe, Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP (moderator) – NFTs and IP – A New Frontier.

Sarah Bruno is a trusted advisor to companies in the retail, technology, entertainment, gaming, automotive, and association spaces, and counsels her clients on the legal requirements for the development and launch of their platforms, products and services.

Her work involves the cross-section of expertise in the Intellectual Property (IP), privacy and advertising spaces. She is routinely evaluating client products and concepts and developing protection strategies, considering how to collect, use and store any data as a result of the launch, and advising on online and offline marketing tactics.

Luke Nikas is a partner in Quinn Emanuel’s New York office.  He is widely recognized as one of the top lawyers in the country and has been selected as a Law360 MVP and named to Lawdragon’s list of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America, Lawdragon’s list of the 500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers in the category of Business Litigation, Benchmark Litigation’s “Under 40 Hot List,” Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, the New York Law Journal’s list of Rising Stars, the Best Lawyers in America, and the Super Lawyers list by New York Super Lawyers.  Luke also is Co-Chair of the firm’s Art Litigation and Disputes Practice and has one of the most prominent and successful art litigation practices in the world.  A prominent art publication called him one of the most “highly influential” art lawyers in the world after he led the defense in an art forgery case dubbed by ArtNews as “The Art Trial of the Century.”  He has also advised clients regarding the sales and attempted sales of NFTs, and recently obtained a preliminary injunction in federal court that successfully prevented the sale of an unauthorized NFT of a well-known music album.

Scott Shipman is Chief Legal Officer of Dapper Labs, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based digital collectibles startup behind popular non-fungible tokens like CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot. He was previously chief legal and privacy officer at AppLovin.

Jordan Jaffe is a partner in Quinn Emanuel’s San Francisco office and chair of the firm’s Autonomous Vehicle Practice.  His practice focuses on working with cutting edge technology clients on their most important intellectual property and business litigation disputes.  Jordan was recently selected as a Rising Star by Law360, which honors “the top legal talent under 40.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available.  For more information, email us at for details.

SFIPLA wishes to thank the following sponsors for this year’s Seminar:






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