As the second-largest payment-processing corporation in the world, it’s no secret that Mastercard offers a wide range of financial services. Originally known as Interbank, the company began in 1966 as an alliance of several regional bankcard associations. The collaboration was a direct response to the success of Bank of America’s BankAmericard, which later became known globally as Visa.
Fifty years later, in 2006, after a long evolution of partnerships, mergers, acquisitions, technological advances, and everything in between, Mastercard went public and continued to establish itself as a corporate powerhouse. With power comes great legal responsibility, especially in the area of intellectual property. And, in 2016, Francesca Silverman was brought on as the organization’s first trademark and brand attorney.
Currently, the attorney serves as vice president and senior managing counsel of IP, where she is responsible for all aspects of Mastercard’s global trademark and copyright portfolio. In her role, she is engaged in strategic planning, clearance, prosecution, enforcement, and licensing. Silverman also advises the corporation’s business teams on IP-related issues concerning brand development and protection, marketing, technology, advertising, sponsorships, and commercial transactions.
She brings extensive experience in structuring, drafting, and negotiating licensing and other commercial agreements related to IP rights to her in-house leadership role at Mastercard. Prior to her position at Mastercard, Francesca was an IP associate at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP and served on the firm’s Cybersecurity Committee and its first Women’s Initiative Committee. In her role, she aimed to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women lawyers as well as increase the representation of women in leadership roles.
During her tenure in private practice, Silverman also gained valuable litigation experience appearing before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board as well as in state and federal court on matters relating to trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and antitrust violations. Additionally, she counseled clients on issues relating to brand development, social media, internet law, technology, domain names, privacy, rights of publicity, and unfair competition.
While the attorney is certainly an expert in all things IP, she didn’t necessarily set out to be at the onset of her education. She studied classics and art history as an undergraduate at Columbia University and went on to Harvard Law School where she participated in the Criminal Justice Institute.
As a law student, Silverman interned at the United States Attorney’s Office, where she researched and drafted legal memoranda relating to financial crimes and the law of criminal organizations. She also ventured out of the US to conduct extensive legal research and writing concerning the application of American law to Israeli legal issues as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Israel.
Silverman’s diverse resume was certainly advantageous upon entering the legal career market, and her varied experience shows her inherent willingness to take on great challenges. Global credit card companies face numerous challenges, pressures, and opportunities in today’s financial technology marketplace.
For instance, Mastercard currently has eighty patent applications filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for developing unique, new-age blockchain-based systems. It also has filed fifteen crypto-related nonfungible token (NFT) and metaverse trademark applications with USPTO. One trademark filing for the company’s “Priceless” slogan includes artwork, text, audio, and video that are authenticated by NFTs, while another shows Mastercard’s red and yellow logo for processing card transactions for goods and services in the metaverse and other virtual worlds.
As an expert patent and trademark attorney, Silverman certainly has had her work cut out for her as a leader within Mastercard’s legal department. Her impressive pedigree and willingness to take on challenges has made her a power player in an industry that seems to be changing by the minute.