About Mary

Intellectual property attorney, businesswoman, marketing pro

MaryShapiro_fotoMary L. Shapiro started her law firm in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District in 2009 after ten years at the renowned firm Townsend and Townsend and Crew, LLP. As an independent trademark and copyright lawyer, Mary counsels a broad range of clients in owning, enforcing, protecting and profiting from their intellectual property. True to her founding mission of providing practical and affordable intellectual property legal counsel, she simultaneously adds real business value (rather than merely creating legal expenses) for private and public companies alike.

A unique understanding of IP law and your business objectives

In the first 20 years of her business career, Mary worked her way up in the publishing world from book retailing to publishing, and rose to vice president of marketing and corporate communications for an international book distributor.  At the time, as a purveyor, not yet a protector, of intellectual property, she was not yet aware of how perfectly her combined experience in marketing and publishing would serve her IP legal career later in life.

As former vice president of marketing for Baker & Taylor Books, a global publishing distributor, Mary was on the receiving end of intellectual property legal advice. She learned to challenge advice that didn’t square with her fixed marketing budget and the bigger business picture. She’s been the unfortunate recipient of an IP lawyer’s demand letter that ultimately led to rebranding and relaunching a product. After becoming an IP attorney herself, Mary maintains a balanced perspective, giving great weight to immediate marketing objectives and the long view of her clients’ business vision.

As an experienced intellectual property attorney, Mary’s combination of legal, business and marketing perspectives reach far beyond merely registering and enforcing trademarks and copyrights.

Following her passion and intellectual curiosity

Mid-career, wanting something different and more intellectually challenging, Mary moved to San Francisco and earned her juris doctorate degree at Golden Gate University, where she later taught U.S. trademark law.

At Townsend and Townsend and Crew, then the West’s largest dedicated intellectual property firm, Mary developed extensive experience in counseling, clearance, filing, prosecution, enforcement and dispute resolution. After a decade at a prestigious firm, she tapped into her business experience to launch Mary L. Shapiro Law, a small firm focused on trademark and copyright law, and how these areas of law intersect with digital technologies.

Responsive, cost-conscious and highly personalized service

Shapiro Law’s client roster includes satisfied clients who moved with Mary when she opened her new firm, and new clients referred by current clients and former colleagues. Her clients appreciate Mary’s valuable business perspective and her big firm legal experience delivered by her affordable, responsive and highly personalized service. Once a customer of intellectual property legal services, Mary relates directly to her client’s concerns when she delivers expert legal advice.


A vital link between legal and marketing

Her premium legal services, high availability and her fierce protection of our IP deserve the highest recommendation. Mary maintains vast institutional knowledge and works in a naturally collaborative, hands-on style. Her professional insight provides creative options and she comes equipped with a wide range of possible solutions.

-Victor Castellucci, MIPS Technologies, Inc., Vice President of Intellectual Property

Mary is ridiculously efficient and genuinely interested in what we do

She is very unusual for an attorney…As most lawyers tell you why you can’t do what you want (or need) to do, Mary takes the time to understand an issue and proposes alternative courses of action, each with its own potential risks and rewards. She educates us on the legal ramifications and we decide on our best course of action.

-Paul Copperman, Institute of Reading Development, Founder and CEO

Mary maintains the ‘long view’ despite the immediate storm

She clearly cares about her clients and our concerns immediately became hers. She has a broad understanding of the nuances of IP law; and she is conscientious, discerning and always presents us with the broadest possible range of solutions to any matter. Additionally, she’s been proactive in encouraging us to address many IP issues before problems arise. Of the dozens of attorneys I’ve worked with over the years, I’ve had the most productive working relationship with Mary!

-Robert Walter, Joseph Campbell Foundation, President and Executive Director

Mary has extensive large-firm experience

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mary for many years on my firm’s IP and trademark concerns. Mary is patient when explaining the laws, tenacious at administering client’s rights and strategic in determining the best and most cost-effective approach to a legal issue.

-Ron Johnson, Mosaic Event Management, CEO


“Ten Things You Might Not Know About Filing Under the Madrid Protocol System,” INTA Newsletter, March 15, 2010 Vol. 65 No. 6.

Summary, “Local Zoning Regulations Can Prohibit Use of a Registered Trademark But Cannot Require an Alteration of a Trademark: Blockbuster Videos, Inc. v. City of Tempé,” 29, Golden Gate University Law Review 106 (1999).

“An Analysis of the Fair Use Defense in Dr. Seuss Enterprises v. Penguin Books USA,” 28 Golden Gate University Law Review 1 (1998).

“Your Intellectual Property: Protecting and Exploiting It,” 1998 Guide to Literary Agents  (Writer’s Digest Books, 1998).

Mary L. Shapiro, Esq.
Perpetually protecting intellectual property since 1999

A personal statement

As you have read in my biographical information, I had a prior career in book publishing. I love books, reading and buying them, and still find it difficult to walk by a bookstore without stopping.  I enjoyed my career as a retailer, publisher, and distributor, meeting many interesting authors and learning a little bit about so many topics.

While in my first corporate position, which was well before desktop computers were customary, I observed that notices posted on bulletin boards indicated that such and such had left to pursue other interests.  I quickly realized that this language was a euphemism that someone had been fired. Not wanting to get fired, I contemplated what these individuals had in common and concluded that they had become complacent and hadn’t changed with the time. Vowing not to let that happen to me, one thought I had was to reinvent myself midlife.

Flash forward nearly 20 years: I was turning forty and was at a library conference in Los Angeles, pretty soon after the Loma Prieta earthquake.  Then a Vice President of Marketing at an international book distributor, my company had downsized/rightsized and it was necessary for me to assist in setting up the booth at this national trade show.  Not a problem — until we ran out of Velcro® fasteners, which we used to hang posters onto the booth. Even then, I was in LA, in a convention center, so not a [real] problem. Nevertheless I got stuck thinking about how I was turning forty and my biggest challenge was finding Velcro. I now refer to this as my “velcro epiphany.”

Thinking about my future after arriving home in New Jersey, I was driving and reciting the nursery rhyme that went “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief.”  (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker,_Tailor) Doctor-would take too long, Indian chief-not gonna happen.  But lawyer—I could leverage my background in marketing relative to trademark law and my publishing background as to copyright law.  I was energized about pursuing a new and intellectually challenging career. Within a short amount of time, I had registered for the Kaplan® test prep course and the LSAT exam.  About a year later, I was sending off my applications to law schools.

Unfortunately, the day after transmitting my applications, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was very lucky because it was caught in an early stage. Notwithstanding my diagnosis, I was determined not to let cancer stop me from moving on to my new exciting and intellectually challenging career. Following treatment, I was able to start law school only a semester later than planned.

I thoroughly enjoyed law school (and the break from the daily emails, teleconferences, meetings, etc.), remaining focused on a career in intellectual property law.  After graduating in ’98 and passing the bar in ’99, I was able to secure an exceptional position as an associate attorney with a top notch firm, Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP.  There, at the largest specialized intellectual property law firm in the west, then recognized as one of the nation’s leading IP firms, I learned the practice of trademark and copyright law from some of the best IP lawyers in the business,  My practice focused on serving a diverse group of clients, many nationally known for their innovation and commercial success.  (In 2010, the Townsend firm merged with Kilpatrick Stockton and is now known as Kilpatrick Townsend Stockton.)


Shapiro Law home office

Historic photo of Shapiro Law office at 244 California Street

Leave a Reply