Milena S. Mishev is a partner at McCarthy Fingar LLP, a prominent general practice law firm with a 65 year old history, located in White Plains, NY. For more than ten years, Milena has built a national and international reputation as an attorney who specializes in trademark, unfair competition and copyright law. Prior to joining McCarthy Fingar, she served as Head of the Trademark practice for DeMont & Breyer, LLC, an intellectual property law firm specialized in patents and trademarks based in Holmdel, NJ. Milena handled all non-patent related matters on behalf of the firm’s clients. She represented companies in the food, financial and banking, aeronautics, market research, high-end fashion, perfumery and cosmetics industry in various aspects of unfair competition, trademark and copyright law. Milena represented clients before the United States Patent and Trademark Office Trial and Appeal Board and was involved in court litigation before the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. She provided anti-counterfeiting and parallel import protection solutions for companies in the fashion, perfumery and horticulture industry.
Milena began her legal career in the U.S. working as a trademark attorney for Graham, Campaign P.C., one of the oldest U.S. intellectual property boutique firms, located in the heart of New York City, which later became Graham, Campaign & Mishev, P.C. As part of her responsibilities there, she provided advice to a wide variety of clients, both domestic and foreign, in different aspects of unfair competition and trademark law. Milena provided service to clients in the pharmaceuticals, automobile, fashion, perfumery, cosmetics and wine industries. She represented clients in ex parte appeal proceedings and inter partes opposition and cancellation proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office Trial and Appeal Board. Milena provided anti-counterfeiting protection counseling for companies in the perfumery and cosmetics industries and handled the recording of registered trademarks with the United States Customs and Border Protection branch of the United States Department of Homeland Security. She assisted customs agents with the targeting, interception, detainment, seizure and forfeiture of trademark infringing goods. The attorney was also involved in copyright prosecution and litigation matters.
When asked where was she born and raised, Milena replied:
“I was born in socialist Bulgaria, which in itself is challenging and very different from living in a free democracy. In a way, however, I was luckier than the previous generations born and raised in an oppressive regime. The time when I was growing up was a time when formally the regime became much more ‘liberal’, than the first decades of communism when a lot of free spirited people were sent to labor camps. Many people involved in politics before the communist coup at the end of the WWII and even just wealthy people disappeared without a trace after the communists came to power. One such person was my great grand father Miko, who was a mayor of a small town. The people from my generation were able to read Western authors, to listen to Western rock and pop music, to wear blue jeans and short skirts. ‘Freedoms,’ previous generations were not allowed to have.”
Milena earned her LL.B. and LL.M. from School of Law, St. Kliment Ohridski University. She also received her LL.M. in Intellectual Property from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she was competitively selected as a fellow of the Squadron Graduate Program in Media and Telecommunications Law, which was directed by Professor Monroe Price. She enjoyed the research and editing tasks she performed as part of the program. But most of all, she truly loved the time working and having fun together with other fellows, such as Olga Statz and Ziva Cohen, with whom she remained great friends.
After graduating from School of Law, St. Kliment Ohridski University, Milena decided to gain media and legal experience in synchrony. She worked as a journalist for the Obshtestvo I Pravo (Society and Law) Journal, which is a publication of the Organization of the Bulgarian Jurists. Milena wrote about important issues of the Bulgarian society and law practice and she worked with some of the most prominent legal professionals in the country. The journalist then served as Chief Law Editor of the Demokrazia Daily National Newspaper. Milena wrote about the activities of the Department of Justice, Supreme Court, Ministry of Defense, and National Security Council for the first independent daily newspaper in Bulgaria, which was established after the fall of the totalitarian regime. She also supervised five reporters in the legal department.
Milena gained national TV exposure when she became a reporter for the Bulgarian “Plus-Minus Prime Time Economic Show.” She reported on-screen on legal issues of the free market economy, World Bank and International Monetary Fund activities. Milena later served as an executive director for Sofia cable TV. She managed a team of fifty full-time employees for the first private network in the country, which began to broadcast in 1995.
Milena is currently a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, International Trademark Association, American Intellectual Property Law Association, and the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. She was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York in 2003 and was admitted to the United States District Court for the Southern District and Eastern Districts of New York in September 2005. Milena was also admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on June 2011 and just recently to the United States Supreme Court. She is accredited to practice law in Bulgaria and she speaks fluently in English, Russian and Bulgarian.
When the attorney isn’t working, she enjoys dancing with her daughter and listening to classic, pop, rock and jazz music. Milena loves figure skating and soccer. She also enjoys going to museums and art galleries with her family. Milena is a frequent visitor of the Peking Duck House, a fine Chinese restaurant located in New York City. She said, “My daughter is from Nanjing (Nanking), China and we celebrate every family holiday at this restaurant. It has a very pleasant atmosphere and the food is delectable.”
What is Milena's favorite book? She claimed:
“In Search of Lost Time, a novel by the French author Marcel Proust, who was a true genius. He once said that ‘reading is that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude.’Or, as another favorite French author of mine, Francoise Sagan, said: ‘After Proust, there are certain things that simply cannot be done again. He marks off for you the boundaries of your talent.’
Currently, Milena enjoys reading Emanuel Schikaneder’s The Magic Flute (the libretto to Mozart’s famous opera) to her six years old daughter, Emma-Neve.
Milena's Successful Law Career
Did Milena receive any awards or participate in any internship that influenced her decision to go into the law? She said, “While in high school, I was fascinated with the French mathematician Pierre de Fermat, who founded the number theory and contributed to the theory of probability. Not that many people know that he was a lawyer. I became convinced that being a lawyer gives you the ability to do successfully almost anything.”
When asked if she could tell us about her most memorable law school experience, Milena stated, “I would like to discuss my admission ceremony to the U.S. Supreme Court, which happened about a week ago. I had the chance to attend an oral argument before the Court right after the ceremony. I realized that, no matter what your personal views are, the Supreme Court is indeed a place where brilliant legal minds meet.”
What is the best part of her job? “Being challenged.”
What is Milena known for professionally? “Being able to present my position and my arguments in a civilized manner; to keep to the bonton, even when I am dealing with the most uncouth adversary attorney.”
Is there an area of the law that Milena is most passionate about? “Constitutional law.”
What area of practice would Milena like to develop further into? “I am interested in expanding my practice into Defamation law, especially when a public figure is involved.”
In regards to her strength and weakness, she acknowledged, “Strength – I do not give up easily, even when my client does not have the means to continue, I would do an extra effort to help; from a billing standpoint, this may be considered a weakness.” (she laughs)
So what does Milena think about the legal field today? What would she change about it? She said, “I will try to set the tone to be a little bit more civilized between my colleagues.”
If she weren’t a lawyer, what would Milena probably be doing? “I would be a journalist.”
The attorney was asked where she sees herself in five years’ time? “I will still be practicing law in the greatest country in the world.”
What motivates Milena to be an attorney everyday? “The joy of being able to help my clients protect their IP rights and interests and come up with the best solution of my clients’ problems.”
How does Milena want to be remembered? “As a truly international individual – professionally and personally. Professionally – because of my background. With degrees in continental and common law, as well as experience as a professional legal writer, I believe I am able to better understand my clients’ demands and find the best strategy for protection of their intellectual property. In addition to my U.S. clients, the others come from all over the world - France, Sweden, Netherlands, United Kingdom, South Korea, as well as Eastern Europe. Personally, because of who I am – one third American, one third Bulgarian and one third Chinese; the same is true for my husband Konstantin and my daughter Emma-Neve. But most of all, I would like to be remembered as a good mother.”
International Trademark Law Forums and Foreign Media and Legal Experience
Milena has participated in nine international trademark law forums since 2004. What are these international trademark law forums? She explained, “The International Trademark Association, which is an excellent epicenter for trademark attorneys from all over the world with its headquarters in NYC; also the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.”
Why did Milena decided to gain foreign media and legal experience? She asserted:
“Soon after I graduated from law school in Bulgaria, the communist regime was overturned and Bulgaria was faced with the most historic changes in its modern history. As all other areas, the legal system in Bulgaria started changing and becoming unified with the legal system of Western Europe. I had the chance to assist the first democratically appointed Chief of the Bulgarian Supreme Court and the first democratic Prime Minister of the country. It was a dynamic and very exciting time in the life of the country and the entire Eastern Europe.”
Milena’s Mentor, Pro Bono Work, Non Profit Organizations and Goals
Does Milena have a mentor? She said, “Alan Blum, who is actively involved with the INTA is a great mentor and a very fine person.”
Does Milena handle pro bono work? “Yes. At the moment, I am helping the Bulgarian Children’s Chorus and School GERGANA protect their intellectual property rights.”
Is she involved with any non-profit organizations? “Yes. I was on the Board of Directors of the Soroptimist International of New York City and the Board of Directors of the Bulgarian Children’s Chorus and School GERGANA, Inc.; Class parent at my daughter’s class (she is in first grade);”
Does the former journalist have goals? “To make the world a better place; to change the misperceptions about the United States that have widely spread throughout the whole world and are genuinely untrue.”