NNABA Committee on Intellectual and Cultural Property

Intellectual property is a thriving and important area of legal practice. Each year millions of trademark and patent applications are filed around the world, and the intellectual property bar is comprised of thousands of practitioners in the United States and tens of thousands around the world. Native Americans, however, are largely excluded from this part of the bar.

Partly because of this exclusion, there are serious justice concerns for Native Americans involving the intellectual property system. Theft, abuse, and appropriation of the intangible aspects of Native American culture, heritage, and identity, including traditional knowledge, genetic resources, and traditional cultural expressions, pose serious threats to Native peoples and their cultural integrity.

In response to the need for more inclusion of Natives in the practice of intellectual property law, and the need for advancements in the law to protect Native communities, NNABA created a new Committee on Intellectual and Cultural Property (ICP) in 2023. The ICP Committee is for members to learn, share, network, advocate and develop NNABA policy on these issues.

2024-2025 Committee Members:

Please contact the Committee Chair or NNABA President for information about Committee membership.  The Committee Chairs nominate potential members to the NNABA President for appointment. Committee members must be NNABA members.  NNABA membership can be applied for online, at the membership page on NativeAmericanBar.org.

Committee Resources on Intellectual and Cultural Property:

  • 2024 Tribal Consultation by US Patent and Trademark Office

Other Resources:

Directory of Native American Intellectual Property Law Practitioners

Indigenous representation in the legal profession, and specifically within the IP bar, is unconscionably low. This list contains all the practicing Indigenous American IP lawyers known by the NNABA ICP Committee, which is less than 2 dozen people in the country across all areas of IP practice, though there are tens of thousands of IP lawyers in the US.

Please use this list as a resource. This is a resource to inform discussions about how important and urgent it is that we raise indigenous representation in IP. To urge creativity and investment to indigenous inclusion. And to support the indigenous people on this list – use this list when you need to hire IP counsel, seek out an expert opinion or speaker, offer partnership, or for recruiting purposes for jobs or leaderships opportunities like committee and board members.

Help keep this list accurate. Native American attorneys practicing in Intellectual Property law are welcome to contact the Committee to be included in the list.

Lawyers are listed in alphabetical order by surname.

Private Practice

  1. Kainoa Asuega (Native Hawaiian), Crowell & Moring LLP, Orange County, CA – patent prosecution and litigation
  2. Nathan Durrance, Newman DuWors, Seattle, WA & Los Angeles, CA–patent litigation, portfolio analysis, and prosecution
  3. Nicole Grigg (Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake), Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell, San Francisco, CA–patent litigation and portfolio management, trademark prosecution and litigation, copyright, and technology transactions
  4. Anthony Jones (Port Gamble S’Klallam), Dorsey & Whitney LP, Seattle, WA–patent prosecution and portfolio counseling
  5. Kevin Jones, Barta, Jones & Foley, Inc., Kansas City, MO–patent procurement, transactions, and dispute resolution
  6. Summer H. Kaiawe (Native Hawaiian), Watanabe Ing LLP, Honolulu, HI–copyright, trademark, and IP transactions
  7. Jonathan V. Lewis (Meherrin), Desmarais LLP, D.C. and North Carolina, patent counseling and patent litigation
  8. Susan B. Meyer (Oglala Sioux), Gordon & Rees LLP, Rapid City, SD – IP litigation, licensing and transfer, biotechnology patent prosecution, and trademark and copyright prosecution.
  9. Makalika Naholowaa (Native Hawaiian), Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Honolulu, HI & Seattle, WA–copyright and trademark procurement, portfolio management, and licensing; unfair competition counseling
  10. Lisa R. Shellenberger (Choctaw), Setter Roche Smith & Shellenberger, LLC, Denver, CO–IP counseling regarding indigenous cultural content
  11. Cara Wallace (Diné and Haida), Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle, WA & Alaska–IP and unfair competition litigation
  12. Chante Westmoreland (Choctaw), Shepphard Mullin, Houston, TX–IP and trade secret litigation, IP prosecution, traditional knowledge and cultural property management
  13. Anthony Wingrove (Cherokee), Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City, MO–patent prosecution

In-House Practitioners

  1. Kaniah Whitehorse Konkoly-Thege (Osage), Quantinuum, Minneapolis, MN – AI and tech policy focus with past roles involving tech transactions and IP litigation management.
  2. Shannon Silversmith (Cherokee), Cohesity, Topeka, KS–patent prosecution, portfolio management, copyright, licensing, open source compliance and management
  3. Samantha Wauls, (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe-Lakota), NBCUniversal, Los Angeles, CA-IP contracting, trademark procurement and portfolio management, entertainment law, copyright counseling
  4. Eric Wingrove (Cherokee), Meta, Austin, TX–IP transactions

Government Practitioners

  • None yet identified

Within the Academy – Intellectual Property Scholars

  1. Professor Trevor Reed (Hopi), Tempe, AZ–Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University
  2. Professor Forrest Tahdooahnippah (Comanche Nation of Oklahoma), Minneapolis, MN – Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Within the Academy – Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Property Scholars

  1. Professor Trevor Reed (Hopi), Tempe, AZ–Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University
  2. Professor Angela Riley (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), Los Angeles, CA – UCLA School of Law