Shahrzad Esmaili is a partner and registered Canadian and US patent agent in Gowling WLG's Toronto office. With over 15 years of experience, Shahrzad focuses her intellectual property (IP) practice primarily on high-tech inventions – specifically those related to computer software, computer hardware, business methods, mechanical and electronic devices, biomedical arts and artificial intelligence (AI).
Shahrzad brings to her position an advanced engineering background, having completed two masters degrees at Ryerson University in both electrical and computer network engineering before assuming engineering roles at some of the world's largest tech companies. She complements this technical background with a sophisticated understanding of patent law, as well as an extensive knowledge of the challenges and opportunities that exist in the global tech sector.
Harnessing this experience, Shahrzad works closely with inventors and in-house counsel to deliver innovative and cost-efficient patent prosecution strategies – both domestic and cross-border – that reflect the pace and competitiveness of today's global IP market. Her high-tech clients particularly appreciate her nuanced understanding of software and business method patent protection in Canada, the US and around the world.
Shahrzad's patent practice focuses on patent drafting and prosecution for emerging technologies including AI and machine learning inventions, with respect to self-driving cars, e-commerce, smart monitoring devices, voice-controlled personal assistants and FinTech. Her interest in such technologies has stemmed from her master's thesis relating to machine learning based audio classification techniques.
A thought leader in her field, Shahrzad is a frequent speaker and author on the unique challenges of global software and computer-implemented patent protection, particularly in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. She has spoken extensively about this topic in webinars and her legal commentary has been published by Canadian Intellectual Property Review (CIPR), Lexpert and the American Bar Association in its Landslide® magazine.
Outside of her practice, Shahrzad is actively involved with several IP and professional organizations. She is the co-founder and co-chair of the first Canadian chapter (Toronto) of ChIPs, an international nonprofit organization that advances and connects women in IP, technology, law and policy with an added goal of bridging gaps between in-house counsel, external counsel and academia. Shahrzad also serves as a member of Ryerson University's Electrical and Computer Engineering advisory board, a role that finds her advocating passionately for gender diversity in STEM fields.