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Edmonton
June 25, 2019

Michael Sharp

Top 40 Under 40 2018

Photography Curtis Trent

Age: 39

Job Title: Practice Group Leader, Intellectual Property and Innovation Group, Parlee McLaws LLP

Why He’s Top 40: For helping those in the emerging knowledge economy protect their ideas.


Michael Sharp certainly got his money’s worth out of a decade of studies and three degrees from the University of Alberta.

Sharp hit a roadblock in his research work in genetics. It was at that point that he considered changing his specialty. He thought about getting an MBA, and going into the business side of biotech. Or, he could take what he’d learned in the sciences and apply to it to law studies.

“It was a coin flip,” he said. He chose law. And, now, he oversees nearly 1,000 patent, trademark and copyright files for Parlee McLaws LLP.

“Alberta is changing,” he says. “It used to be that there were many handshake agreements, and people assumed they wouldn’t get ripped off, that other people won’t steal their inventions.”

In a new innovation, knowledge-based economy, Sharp plays a crucial role ensuring that the innovators’ ideas are legally protected. He is seeing a massive uptick in work thanks to the new legal cannabis industry, as many companies have come forward with new ways to speed growth and processing of the plants. He’s also working with many Alberta craft brewers in protecting their trademarks.

“I am blown away by what people are coming up with,” he says.

Sharp is part of the fellowship committee for the Telus World of Science, acting as an ambassador for learning and the centre. He’s also been chair of the regional section of the Canadian Bar Association’s team that looks at technology and intellectual property. And, he’s served as an executive member on the CBA’s national intellectual property group.

He’s also a new dad. He and his wife, Liza, welcomed their son, Thomas, in April. Selling his wife on Edmonton helped Sharp, who was born and raised in Red Deer, see how special the city is.

“My wife is from the U.S., so in the process of selling her on Edmonton, I really discovered what the city has to offer.”

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