Zareefa B. Flener to speak at MJBizCon Cannabis Law Sessions in New Orleans June 11, 2019

By Zareefa B. Flener Posted 

Zareefa B. Flener (Founder and Managing Parter) is to speak on a panel at MJBizCon’s Cannabis Law Sessions on June 11, 2019 in New Orleans. serving up updates on the fast paced world of intellectual property in the cannabis industry. More information can be found here…!event-register/2019/6/11/mjbizconnext-and-mjbizhemp-cannabis-law-sessions

We would be very happy to meet with you and so invite you to connect with us at or to contact Zareefa directly at to set up a time to meet at the event, before, or after. Flener IP & Business law remains a women-owned business and is honored to be of service to our clients and colleagues alike, be it for patents, trademarks, copyrights, contentious matters, business formation, licensing , or the like. We look forward to hearing from you. What’s it going to be? Lets talk about handling your FLIP ‘n Business!

FLIP 'n Business of cannabis

Recreational Cannabis fallout?

By Zareefa B. Flener Posted 

Our very own Bryna Dahlin (Partner) was interviewed by WGN in the Sean Green Show regarding what people should be aware of should cannabis become recreationally legal in Illinois. Listen in…

We welcome any and all inquiries, so please do not hesitate to contact us. Flener IP & Business Law remains a women-owned business with intellectual property and business acumen.


By Zareefa B. Flener In , , Posted 
Super Lawyer

Bryna Dahlin

Super Lawyer 2019

Bryna Dahlin (Partner) and attorney extraordinaire is yet again listed as a Super Lawyer in the annual list of top attorneys in Illinois. Though superb in business litigation, Bryna is adept at all types of corporate and transactional work. She takes a special interest in cannabis law and so, like all of her clients, her cannabis clients receive her incredible direction and counsel in the new and ever changing cannabis law frontier. Bryna can be reached at Our webpage specific to cannabis can be found at .

Flener IP & Business Law remains a women-owned business. Please reach out and contact us with any queries that you might have. We look forward to being of assistance.


By Elaine M. Ramesh In , , , , Posted 

Please join Elaine Ramesh (Partner) at the 20th Annual Texas Aggie Bar Association conference on March 2, 2019, in College Station, Texas, to learn about the in’s and out’s of drafting animal laws in her presentation, “Drafting Animal Laws 101”.

Of course, please don’t hesitate to contact Elaine to meet before or after, or even during her time at the conference. Elaine can be contacted at We look forward to hearing from you!

FLIP is a women-owned business.

Brand Protection Online & Managing Trademark Assets Sessions (WTR), March 5-6, 2019

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

Please join Zareefa B. Flener (Managing Partner) and Lisa Harkins (Attorney) at the World Trademark Review’s Brand Protection and Managing Trademark Assets Sessions in Chicago on March 5 and 6, 2019 for an in-depth discussion with seasoned attorneys from around the world.

Feel free to schedule meetings in and around the Sessions by contacting us at 312-724-8874 or by emailing or (Zareefa and Lisa, respectively). We look forward to seeing you there.

Happy Lunar New Year!

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

Happy New Year and Spring Festival from Zareefa and your friends at Flener IP & Business Law! Wishing you the very best in the year to come!


Flener IP & Business Law to present at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago August 2-5, 2018

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

The American Bar Association Annual Meeting is taking place in Chicago Illinois on August 2-5, 2018. Zareefa B. Flener, Managing Partner of Flener IP & Business Law, is looking forward to participating in the panel entitled "PROTECTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN THE LEGAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY" on August 3rd, 2018, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM. 

The meeting and event will take place at the Swissotel at 323 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL  60601, and the panel will be in the Lucern Ballroom. We look forward to seeing you there for this informative discussion!

FLIP is a boutique IP and business law firm, is proudly women-owned, and welcomes your queries. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us so that we can assist in your FLIP & Business.

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Elaine Ramesh to present at the American Bar Association's TIPS Animal Law committee meeting in Chicago, Illinois on August 7, 2018

By Zareefa B. Flener In , Posted 

On August 7, Elaine Ramesh, Partner at Flener IP & Business Law, is making a presentation to the ABA-TIPS Animal Law Committee's Equine Law Sub-Committee entitled " Beyond the Basics: Creating the Next Generation of State Laws Supportive of Horse Use & Ownership" in Chicago, Illinois. 

FLIP is a woman-owned intellectual property and business law firm, providing a well rounded team to its intellectual property core including litigation, transactional work and counseling. Feel free to reach out for more information. Let us help with your FLIP & Business!

FLIP to present a fireside chat with OPEN Chicago Chapter June 31, 2018.

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

Zareefa Flener, Managing Partner of FLIP, to present a fireside chat to the charter members at the Overseas Pakistani Entrepreneur Network's ("OPEN") Chicago Chapter on June 31, 2018 in Arlington Heights. 

Details and more information about the event can be found here.

Hope to see you there...

FLIP encouraging women in team building exercise June 28, 2018 at the Illinois PGA Women's Team Skills Challenge

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

True to form FLIP is sponsoring the:

Illinois PGA Women’s Team Skills Challenge

Thursday, June 28th

at Twin Orchard Country Club;

a team building event, and a way to encourage women to continue to join successfully traverse the work force space and compete in the world, including in golf! Zareefa B. Flener, Managing Partner, will run straight off her flight from London to the Skills Challenge. FLIP is excited to join other golfers in yet another women only event! 

Flener IP & Business Law is a women-owned intellectual property and business law boutique law firm with decades of experience in managing clients legal matters. We remain at your disposal for any intellectual property and corporate/business law queries and endeavors.

Different strokes for different folks?

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

In Illinois on December 17, 2010, a 13 year old child died at a Chicago Public School ("CPS") because there were peanuts in food that her seventh grade teacher ordered from a restaurant for a class holiday party, which was not supposed to have any nuts or nut oil. The child reacted and per CPS rules, the on campus nurse was not allowed to administer an epi pen.

The laws have now changed in Chicago, Illinois as a result giving the schools more control over the health and welfare of their wards, the children.  

Does this also include administering medical marijuana? Colorado seems to think so. The number of states legalizing medical marijuana is continuing to grow. But now, the Colorado House has passed a bill that would allow nurses in schools to administer medical marijuana to their students. According to a recent Pew Research poll 6 in 10 Americans support the use of medical marijuana.

Currently, cannabis is banned by federal law as a Schedule I substance. This means the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency assesses it as highly addictive with no medical value. However, "the people" disagree. 28 states have approved a medical marijuana program and eight have legalized recreational use of cannabis products.  In fact, Colorado and Illinois lawmakers have introduced more medical marijuana legislation in their respective states to address chronic pain and perhaps lessen opioid prescriptions. Since 2000, medical marijuana has been continuously growing. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 87,493 patients had active medical marijuana registrations as of early 2018. While some lawmakers still may not support the use of marijuana for any reason, marijuana still has a strong support system.

"When people ask me if we are not simply creating a gateway, I tell people this: I don't know if cannabis is addictive, but I do know this: Opioids and heroin kills people, cannabis does not," Senator Dan Harmon of Illinois, a sponsor of the state's medical marijuana expansion bill, told the Chicago Tribune.

When will the Federal government weigh in and make the laws consistent between states i.e. in commerce? Even the disconnect within the Federal government i.e. patents versus trademarks in terms of eligibility, needs to be addressed. 

The attorneys at Flener IP & Business Law are happy to discuss this and any other intellectual property and business law related matters with you. Please feel free to reach out to set a time/day to connect.

YEARS IN THE MAKING... Flener IP & Business Law

By Zareefa B. Flener Posted 


Flener IP & Business Law has entered its fifth (5) year! As we look back we have many people to thank for unwavering support and encouragement including our clients, associates, family, friends, employees, and most importantly our partners (both beloved and professional). We are who we are because of you and we cannot express our gratitude enough.  Looking forward, we meet new challenges with a confidence built on our experience and strategic partnerships.

We are entering new era when minority and women-owned enterprises such Flener IP & Business Law receive more visibility than ever before.  It is more than just a lucky coincidence. More buzz means more education, greater opportunity and more responsibility. The latter resonates most at FLIP.

We recognize we are not created equally, and more importantly, the differences that make the world a brighter and more dynamic platform from which we evolve.  We can each identify our unique strength/skill/talent, and if each of us shares our unique trait, then together we become the nexus for change. Together we can disrupt the status quo, creating chaos through which innovation is born. We are responsible for participating in our societies.  The core of the FLIP mission is to engage ourselves, volunteer, mentor, and educate. To do so, we have chosen causes through which we believe we can make a more equalizing impact. For example:

  • Zareefa Flener (Managing Partner), continues to educate through lectures, participates on Boards of entrepreneurial organizations and supports events spotlighting where and how diversity plays a role in the marketplace of ideas, identifying where the community is flailing, and offering solutions to the problems.
  • Elaine Ramesh (Partner), among other volunteering commitments, Elaine gives her time to educate and encourage girls in the Girl Scouts of America to explore futures in STEM related subjects with an underlying understanding that innovative technologies move civilization forward. 
  • Bryna Dahlin (Partner), volunteers on Boards and assists many startups as General Counsel to get these endeavors off the ground.
  • The firm itself, sponsors events in line with the core mission: locally through the Chicago Women in IP endeavors, and for the first time, in 2018, we will be a proud sponsor of the KPMG Women's Professional Golf Association championship. 

We at FLIP challenge you to join us in disrupting the status quo because together we are the nexus for change. We encourage you to fasten your seat belts and hold on tight as you enter the next chapter with FLIP.  Let’s think outside the box! 

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By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

Sweden and South Korea tied for first place as the 2018 most innovative countries in the world according to Bloomberg's Innovation Index 2018. The World Economic Forum, on the other hand, ranks the U.S. second to Switzerland only, and Sweden remains in the top ten, while South Korea is strangely absent all together. What does this mean considering South Korea and the U.S. are the countries that top the list as having companies with the most patent filings in 2017?

Regarding South Korea, rumor has it that Samsung is what keeps South Korea in its glory, with this innovation mindset trickling down through the economy to other companies. Samsung is second only to IBM in awarded U.S. patents since the start of the 2000s. Sweden's forte appears to be in tech start ups rather than tech giants, gaining a reputation as Europe's tech start-up capital. In fact, Sweden is home to some of Europe's largest tech companies, and its capital is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to the number of billion-dollar tech companies that it produces per capita.

The population in Sweden is estimated to be more than 9.9 million people, while the population in South Korea is estimated to be a little more than 51 million people. The U.S. has more than 326 million people but is not vying for pole position. Where is the disconnect?

Bloomberg cites lower U.S. rankings as being related to tertiary (higher college/university) education. The US is now ranked 43 out of 50 nations for “tertiary efficiency”. In fact, the World Forum ranked Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the United Kingdom as being the top two universities in the world as of September 2017. Another factor that Bloomberg says weighs heavily against the U.S. is its lack of value-added manufacturing while apparently South Korea and Singapore lead the pack.

The U.S. is still ranked in first place when it comes to density of tech companies and second in patent activity...second to South Korea. Even Israel is ranked both in Bloomberg's and the World Economic Forum's top ten, but Israel has about 4000 start ups, and raises venture capital per capita at two-and-a-half times the rate of the U.S. and 30 times that of Europe.

When it comes to being a world leader at innovation, it may simply be the case that you get out what you put in: according to OECD figures, Israel spends more money on research and development as a proportion of its economy than any other country – 4.3% of GDP against second-placed South Korea's 4.2%. Switzerland is in third place spending 3.4% of its GDP on R&D, while Sweden spends 3.3%. The US spends just 2.8%.

Perhaps by making higher education more accessible and financially possible, encouraging young Americans to strive for higher education, and implementing more accessible and widespread programs in innovation, intellectual property basics and procedure, more people would risk the road less travelled for the rewards that innovation can bring. 

We can all do our part. The attorneys at Flener IP & Business Law strive to volunteer, educate and mentor. Contact us to see where our next appearance/event will be. 


Wake Up & Smell the Innovation:  Breakfast food, pets and patentability

By Elaine M. Ramesh In , Posted 

        We Americans are known for spending liberally on our pets.  According to the American Pet Products Association, approximately $30 billion dollars was spent on pet food in 2017.  The pet food industry continues to expand in the United States; and offers opportunities for entrepreneurs to create new products such as pet treats and pet food. But can a start-up get intellectual property protection for a new edible product for the pet market?

         The short answer to this question is yes, as long as the entrepreneur is smart about the type of protection for the product.   It may be very difficult to obtain a utility patent for the “recipe” of the food or treat, because most ingredients and combinations are already known; or would be considered obvious.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t patent your pet treat.  It is possible that you can obtain either a utility patent on the process for making that “recipe”; or a design patent on the non-functional features of the food or treat.  Read on to learn how even simple breakfast foods like waffles have served as inspiration for patentable pet treat inventions.

Utility Patents for Methods of Making Pet Treats/Food

        Utility patent protection is possible for your pet treat!  Hard to believe?  Then check out these examples of recently issued utility patents protecting the methods for making pet food or pet treats: U.S. Patent No. 9,339,052 claiming a process for making a semi-moist dog food and U.S. Patent No. 9,635,836 claiming a method of making pet treats from unprocessed.  There are also pending applications such as U.S. Patent Publication No. 2017/0181448 describing a method of making a pet treat by coating a rawhide chew stick with a plant mixture giving the appearance of a grilled shish kabob; U.S. Patent Publication No. 2016/0366910 disclosing a method of making a dog treat by cooking dog treat waffle batter in a waffle iron; and a dairy based chew made by combining dairy based ingredients to create a hardened or semi-hardened form in U.S. Patent Publication No. 2017/0273336.

         However, a utility patent is fairly expensive to obtain; may take a number of years to be granted; and will undergo rigorous examination.    The US PTO fees just to take the first step of filing a patent application can be in the range of $500 - $2,000.   This doesn’t include the costs for an attorney to prepare and file the application; or costs and fees to get a patent; or pay the required maintenance fees to keep it alive after it is granted.  It is possible to apply for a patent on your own without an attorney’s assistance (pro se), but having a patent attorney handle the application will be more efficient.   The US PTO does have an Inventors Assistance Center Helpline (1-800-PTO-9199) that you can call if you need help filling out forms and submitting paperwork if you prefer to do it yourself. 

Design Patents for Pet Treats/Food 

         A less expensive and quicker route to patent protection may be to consider filing a design patent application to protect the look of your pet food or pet treat.   A design patent application costs less to file; and doesn’t require payment of maintenance fees to keep it alive once granted.  This type of patent has as shorter exclusivity period than a utility patent.   It can be used to protect the non-functional design of the product.  For more information on design patents for pet products; see the previous blog post on this site entitled “Something to Chew On”.  Some recent examples of design patents for pet products include:  D810,391 for the shape of an edible pet treat; D805,726 for the shape of pet food; D673,002 for a fire hydrant shaped dog biscuit baking tray and D648,594 for a dog treat waffle iron.   These examples show that there could be a protectable aspect to the shape of your product; and that the shape of the mold to make your product could be protected.

         Exclusivity for your pet treat or pet food is possible when based on how it is made (utility patent) or what it looks like (design patent).  It is just a matter of being creative in your approach to identify a patentable aspect of your product.   Flener IP Law’s registered patent attorneys are here to assist you with strategic protection of your new product.






By Zareefa B. Flener Posted 

Managing Partner Zareefa B. Flener and Sean Swidler will attend the Annual INTA conference in Seattle from May 19-23. Please feel free to reach out to schedule a meeting. 

Sean and Zareefa can be reached at and, respectively. We look forward to seeing you there!

P.S.- for all of you golfers, Zareefa will have her golf clubs and would be very pleased for a golf partner on Friday May 18th, 2018. Let us know if you want to join in on the fun...

FLIP is front and center at the Women Empowering Women luncheon.

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

Flener IP & Business Law was very pleased to attend the sold out Women Empowering Women luncheon at client Maple and Ash in Chicago. The venue was beautiful and the event inspiring; a reminder that we are stronger together, all have unique and invaluable skills that should be shared and taught to other women, there is strength in numbers, and we are catalysts for change.

We thank the host, Maple and Ash and team, for hosting this inaugural event and providing a forum in which such power was clearly evident.



BRYNA DAHLIN joins the FLIP Partnership!

By Zareefa B. Flener In , Posted 

BRYNA DAHLIN, B.S. J.D. Attorney at law

Flener IP Law is thrilled to announce that Bryna Dahlin is joining the firm as a partner. As a result, we have rebranded to Flener IP & Business Law to recognize the positive synergism that our new partnership generates for the firm and our clients alike. Bryna brings a wealth of litigation and corporate counseling experience to Flener IP & Business Law, thus expanding the services we can offer to our clients. You can read about her further in the attached biography.

Flener IP & Business Law remains at your service as a women-owned business.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for your IP and Business needs, or for a consultation. 


The Partners and Attorneys at

GIRL SCOUTS IP BADGE with the assistance of the women owned FLENER IP & BUSINESS LAW partners

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

On February 24th, 2018, Flener IP & Business Law sponsored the Chicago Women in IP  Intellectual Property Patch event for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Elaine Ramesh, Partner, was front and center, helping the girls understand a bit about intellectual property. 

Flener IP & Business Law, being a women owned business in intellectual property and business law, emphasizes community service, encouraging girls and women to take an interest in the sciences, and stays true to its roots. Please feel free to contact us, we encourage collaboration and the first step is communication.

Elaine, with the girl scouts!

Elaine, with the girl scouts!

Pst, have you heard about California Trademark Laws?

By Zareefa B. Flener In  Posted 

California has amended its trademark laws to allow the registration of cannabis goods and services!  As of January 1, 2018, the California Secretary of State is now registering trademarks covering cannabis goods and services.  State trademark protection is available on these marks provided: (1) the mark is lawfully used in commerce within California, and (2) the goods and/or services covered in the trademark application follows the classification system adopted at the federal level by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The lawful use in California commerce element is important for businesses to be mindful of.  Lawful use of the trademark must be at the time the trademark application is filed.  This means businesses must be licensed to sell the products or perform the services covered in the trademark application and have actual sales.  Unlike the federal trademark system, there is no opportunity to reserve trademark rights based on intent to use the mark in California commerce.

These changes to California trademark law arise from California’s legalization of marijuana use, but lack of harmonization with trademark protection for cannabis business.  Literally a “wild west” where multiple companies could lawfully sell cannabis goods and services under the same or similar trademarks, potentially trading off each other’s goodwill.  Previous California trademark law tracked federal trademark law.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has taken the position that if a trademark covers goods or services considered illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, lawful use in commerce is not possible and trademark protection is and remains unavailable.

This new California trademark law is a first, but is likely to be replicated in other states where cannabis is legal, but state trademark law continues to track federal trademark law in defining “lawful use in commerce”.  Flener IP & Business Law is continuing to track developments and to consider trademark protection strategies in California and other states.

FLIP is a women owned boutique firm specializing in intellectual property law from counseling, managing global and domestic portfolios, transactions, corporation formation and maintenance, and litigation surrounding all aspects of intellectual property.