We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamara Pester and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tamara, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I classify risk into three categories: legal, business, and personal. As a trademark lawyer, my job is to help clients evaluate and understand the legal risk of using a particular word or logo in connection with their products or services. Before we even think about applying for a Federal trademark registration, we do a comprehensive search to see what the universe of others using the same or similar marks looks like. In the best case scenario, my client has come up with a “fanciful” word or design that no one else in the world has ever used, and it is totally clear for use and registration. However, most of my time is spent helping people navigate through the more gray areas where there is some degree of risk because another person or entity is using a mark that might be considered similar, for goods or services that may overlap or be in the “zone of expansion” of my clients’ goods or services. We talk a lot about what this means in terms of possibly getting a cease and desist letter in the future, having an opposition filed against their trademark application, or even facing a Federal lawsuit. While my decades of experience navigating these gray areas can help them understand what might happen, ultimately, it’s up to the client to decide what level of risk they are comfortable with. I have clients on both ends of the spectrum. There are folks for whom we have searched six or seven marks before we get one that’s clear, and there are others who are so dead set on using a mark with a lot of potential hurdles, that they are willing to go forward despite the potential elevated risk. Despite my training as a lawyer, I do not always analyze my own business and personal risks in such a logical manner. Sometimes you need to add instinct to the mix. The biggest business risk I ever took was when I was in my 30’s: I left the security of a cushy, albeit somewhat monotonous, in-house counsel job to launch my own practice. I really only had the assurance that one potential client would hire me to do some ongoing work for them. But I was willing to take that leap of faith into the great unknown, and it has paid off. On a personal level, some of the riskiest things I’ve done have also been the most rewarding. A month before the pandemic began, I convinced two friends to meet me for five days in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. We drove on narrow icy roads through a blizzard in Iceland (yes, there’s a reason they call it ICEland…) and encountered a hurricane with winds so strong, it blew the door off of our car rental in the Faroe Islands. But would I do it again? Absolutely. The landscape was indescribably alluring, and the Faroe Islands in particular had an enchanted, unspoiled kind of beauty.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I graduated from the University of Denver College of Law when the campus was near the old Stapleton airport. I did well in law school, and was offered a position at a huge firm in Atlanta, Georgia. For several years, my job focused solely on trademark applications and technology licensing. Then, I became one of a small team of lawyers at a small software company that kept getting acquired by larger and larger companies. I transferred back to Denver and worked for the company’s office here until my division got divested. When the company wanted me to work for a different division in Texas, I declined. Instead, I began working as technology procurement counsel for a large Colorado corporation. One morning before work, I was driving to an ophthalmologist appointment and had a head-on collision. Thankfully, I emerged from my car (it was a Saab 9-5) with only one scratch on my leg. The police and bystanders were amazed that I survived the impact with no injuries. That accident woke me up to the realization that life is short and can end at any time. Not too long afterwards, I left my predictable corporate counsel job to launch my own practice. I have dipped my toes in other waters, which has helped me better understand the journeys entrepreneurs go through. I tried my hand at recruiting; created a children’s board game for the Passover holiday; worked on a political campaign; I was a brand ambassador for a ski apparel company; I also blogged about ski apparel and was an Instagram “micro influencer” before that was recognized as a real endeavor. It is still fun to occasionally attend influencer events, or to try new products and services, and post about them. But my time is limited, so I am increasingly discriminating about saying yes. I love helping business owners figure out legal issues, especially around intellectual property. In the process of helping them, I learn so much from my clients every day.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This one is easy, because my dear friend Ashley from Houston DID visit me in December 2019, and I had a great time showing her around! Our itinerary is saved on my phone as a “note.” She’s into art and food, and had researched a few of our destinations herself, which made her the best guest ever. Our first stop was Stanley Marketplace, where she wanted to check out the Denver Biscuit Company. We had a delicious lunch there. Then, we headed to Cherry Creek North and spent some time at the Artisan Center and other shops. I showed her the view from the rooftop of the Halycon, with Yianni Bellis’ cool mural that just looks like a lot of colored squares when you are up close. She explored several shops in the Highlands. That night, we enjoyed an evening of epic dining. We started at the Source Market Hall, then to Safta, Crema Coffee, and Dairy Block. We ended our evening with delicious goodies at D-Bar. Yes, we were stuffed at that point! The next morning, we intended to grab brunch at Syrup in Cherry Creek North, but instead made smoothies at home to make up for some of the previous day’s feast. We got organized and packed for Vail, then stopped at ChoLon Bistro for yet another delicious meal. I don’t remember exactly what we had there, but I remember I learned word “unami” which means “essence of deliciousness.” I always take out of town guests to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and it was the perfect stop on our way up to Vail. You can’t beat the natural beauty of Red Rocks, or the fudge in their gift shop! We arrived in Vail in time to meet friends for après ski hot chocolate and champagne sabering that has become a new tradition of the Grand Hyatt Vail. Vail Village is enchanting in the winter, so we walked around a little and ate at La Bottega. The next day was full of ski adventures, après ski s’mores at the Grand Hyatt, then we celebrated her birthday at my favorite Vail restaurant, Sweet Basil. Colorado has so many beautiful destinations. If we had more time, I would have taken her down south to the Incline and Garden of the Gods in the Colorado Springs area, or maybe up to Estes Park or Boulder.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have been fortunate to have a cheerleading squad throughout my life. My parents gave me the confidence that I could do whatever I set out to accomplish. My dad, of blessed memory, had a CPA firm, so I probably absorbed some of his entrepreneurial spirit and definitely his client-centeredness. I have benefited more from informal friendships with people I look up to or spend time with, than from formal mentoring programs.
- Website: https://www.
tamarapester.com and https://www.learntrademarks.com
- Instagram: @tamarapesterlaw and @learntrademarks