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Meet Chris

Christopher R. McElwain is Knowmad Law's principal attorney. Whether you’re filing a trademark application, drafting a business contract or confronting an infringement issue, chances are you’ll be working directly with Chris every step of the way from day one.

Chris is experienced in a range of practice areas affecting business owners and creative professionals, including trademarks, patents, copyright, trade secrets, plant variety protection, domain names, licensing and other contracts, sweepstakes and contest regulation, online speech and civil litigation.

Prior to founding Knowmad Law, Chris was head of the trademark and transactional practice at LaRiviere, Grubman P.C. and head of the litigation practice at Saper Law Offices in Chicago. He attended law school at USC, where he was a member of the Southern California Law Review. Before entering the legal profession, he also taught English at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, China and toured with the Utah Shakespeare Festival.



  • B.A., Whitman College, magna cum laude

  • J.D., University of Southern California, Gould School of Law

Bar Admissions:

  • State Bar of California

  • State Bar of Illinois

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): Registered Patent Attorney



  • Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) - "Legal CosPlay" (2013)

  • Chicago-Kent College of Law - "Copyright Trolls and Porn" (2013)

  • Chicago Association of Litigation Professionals - "Social Media and eDiscovery" (2014)

  • Chicago Bar Association - "Domain Name 101" (2014)

  • Chicago Small Business Expo - "Intellectual Property for Small Business Owners" (2014)

  • Social Media Week Chicago - "Online Reputation Management" (2014)

  • Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) - "The Year in Pop Culture Litigation" (2014)

  • NU Entrepreneurship Law Conference - "Legal Tips for Starting a New Business" (2014)

  • Monterey Black Business Expo - "Trademark Law for Small Business Owners" (2015)

  • Monterey Bay Information Technologists - "User-generated Content and the Law" (2015)

  • Grower-Shipper Association of Central California - "IP for Ag: Protecting Your Competitive Advantages" (2016)

  • Craft Beverage Expo - "Battle of the Brands: Avoiding Common Trademark Pitfalls" (2016)

  • Internet Librarian - "Copyright and Copywrong" (2016)


  • American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Nathan Burkan Memorial Award - 2011

  • International Trademark Association, Ladas Memorial Award - 2016

  • SuperLawyers Rising Stars 2018


  • Santa Cruz County Bar Association

  • Monterey County Bar Association

  • Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

  • Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce

  • National Cannabis Bar Association

  • Monterey County Cannabis Industry Association

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