top of page


Phone: 678-941-0187

Sherry M. Knowles is an intellectual property attorney with 30 years of experience in global corporate and private practice. From 2006-2010, Ms. Knowles was the Senior Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel at GlaxoSmithKline, where she served as the worldwide head of patents for all litigation and transactional matters, and managed a global department of over 200 people in 12 offices, including in the US (3 offices), Europe (7 offices), China (1 office) and Australia (1 office). At GSK, Ms. Knowles was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board, the Technology Investment Board, the Product Management Board, the Legal Management Team and she led the Global Patents Executive Team.

During her leadership at GSK, the company achieved the successful resolution of patent disputes over Requip, Valtrex, Paxil in Europe, Avodart, the US re-issue of the Advair patent, and a number of Consumer Health, biologics and biopharmaceutical matters. She was involved in the settlement and licensing aspects of numerous GSK contentious matters. Ms. Knowles had the responsibility for over 1900 pending GSK US applications, over 2200 granted US patents, over 14,000 pending foreign applications and over 15,000 granted foreign patents.

Ms. Knowles played a key role in the case of GlaxoSmithKline and Tafas v. Dudas, 541 F. Supp. 2d 805 (E.D. Va. 2008). On October 9, 2007, GSK became the first and only company in the US to file a lawsuit to challenge the Final Rules published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on August 7, 2007. During the course of litigation, 20 amicus briefs were filed by parties in support of GSK and Dr. Tafas, including from the AIPLA, PhRMA, BIO, IPO, Washington Legal Foundation and CropLife America. The litigation concluded in October 2009, when David Kappos made the decision to withdraw the contested regulations and GSK agreed to join with the PTO in a motion to dismiss all litigation.

In 2008, Managing IP Magazine named Ms. Knowles one of the top 10 most influential people in Intellectual Property, referring to her as a “Patent Owner’s Advocate.”  In 2010, the New Jersey Intellectual Property Lawyers Association awarded GSK, with Ms. Knowles as the representative, the Jefferson Medal for exceptional contribution to Intellectual Property. In 2010, Managing IP Magazine named the GSK Global Patent Team the “In-House IP Team of the Year” for 2009 for the constructive approach to IP in the developing world, the engagement with public policy in Europe and the successful resolution of the USPTO rules matter in the US.

In November 2011, Intellectual Asset Management Magazine listed Ms. Knowles among the top fifty key individuals, companies and institutions that have shaped the IP marketplace in the last eight years. Ms. Knowles is also listed in the IAM 250 “World’s Leading IP Strategists,” published by IAM Magazine in 2011, the IAM 300 “World’s Leading IP Strategists,” published by IAM Magazine in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 as well as the IAM 1000 “World’s Leading Patent Professionals” in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She was also included in the list of Top 250 Women in IP by Managing IP Magazine in 2014, Managing IP’s 2016 and 2017 list of “IP Stars”.

Ms. Knowles was Chair of the IP Subcommittee of PhRMA in 2008, and Chair Emeritus of the PhRMA IP Subcommittees in 2009 and 2010.  From 2006-2010, she was a member of InterPat, which is the association of Chief Patent Counsels of the major pharmaceutical companies, and from 2008-2010 was a member of the Executive Committee of InterPat. She was the Chair of the work stream on data exclusivity for InterPat from 2006-2010.

Prior to working with GlaxoSmithKline, Ms. Knowles spent almost 20 years in private law firm practice. She was an equity partner at King & Spalding and founded the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Intellectual Property Practice at King & Spalding LLP, where she represented companies, foundations and universities in connection with patent prosecution, litigation, contracts, licensing, financing and other corporate intellectual property issues relating to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical inventions. Ms. Knowles created and defended the patent rights in Emtricitabine (“FTC”), the most widely prescribed medicine for HIV and the cornerstone of the Gilead HIV portfolio, for Emory University, which resulted in monetized royalties to Emory of $540 million. Ms. Knowles also represented Conor Medsystems in connection with a range of litigation over its developmental cardiovascular stent products against Boston Scientific and Angiotech, which helped facilitate Conor’s acquisition by Johnson & Johnson for approx $1.4 billion.

In June 2010, Ms. Knowles left GSK to become the Principal of Knowles Intellectual Property Strategies, LLC, based on Atlanta, Georgia, which is a legal and consulting firm focused on providing global guidance on complex IP matters, patent litigation strategy and assistance, licensing, patent prosecution, opinions, obtaining and protecting the full value of innovation, investor support and monetization of assets. KIPS is a unique IP law firm with a concentrated specialty in the areas of pharmaceuticals and biotech that brings “C-Suite” experience to all sizes of biopharmaceutical companies developing clinical stage drugs into commercial products.

In private practice, Ms. Knowles has represented numerous biopharmaceutical companies in connection with transactional matters, including negotiating and drafting many license and collaboration agreements and counseling clients in connection with potential adversarial issues pertaining to biopharmaceutical contracts. She has also acted as an expert witness on licensing matters in several disputes involving large pharmaceutical companies.

Ms. Knowles has been very active in intellectual property matters in developing countries. Ms. Knowles helped create and headed GSK’s Knowledge Pool to facilitate effective licensing strategies for intellectual property leading to the treatment of neglected tropical diseases in least developed countries. This is the first industry initiative to donate intellectual property, know how and experience to qualified projects via a pool to accelerate capacity building and the development of drugs for commercially neglected diseases. Ms. Knowles led the selection of BIO Ventures for Global Health to be the administrator of the Pool. She also played a leading role in bringing key participants to the Pool, including the Technology Innovation Agency of South Africa. Ms. Knowles executed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of GSK with South Africa. She was also instrumental in obtaining the participation of iThemba Pharmaceuticals (a South African emerging company partially funded by the South African government to identify new drugs to treat tuberculosis), and Emory University Institute for Drug Discovery, which focuses on treating the most neglected diseases. The GSK Patent Pool ultimately became the Re:Search Patent Pool now managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva.

Ms. Knowles led and coordinated the establishment of the GSK’s first patent group in China, located in Shanghai. As part of this initiative, Ms. Knowles’s team provided comments to SIPO (the Chinese Intellectual Property Office) on the draft Third Amendment to the Chinese Patent Law.  Ms. Knowles also met and subsequently corresponded with officials of the SFDA (Chinese Food and Drug Administration) on certain GSK regulatory matters.

Ms. Knowles was one of the two keynote speakers at the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) Expert Forum on International Technology Transfer held in Geneva, Switzerland (February 16-18, 2015), an agency of the United Nations.  She spoke on the subject of “Technology Transfer:  High-Level Perspective from Developed Countries”. The Expert Forum was one of the deliverables of the multi-year WIPO “Project on Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer: Common Challenges – Building Solutions” to further facilitate access to licensing, knowledge and technology from the developed countries to developing countries including least developed countries.  She was also an invited speaker at WIPO’s conference on “IP and Development” in April 2016, also in Geneva, where developing and least developed countries discussed the how to address intellectual property in their countries.

Ms. Knowles is a frequent speaker on legal and policy issues relating to intellectual property, and particularly the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.  Ms. Knowles is the author of the article “Fixing the Legal Framework for Pharmaceutical Research” Science 327 1083 (2010), and a Response Letter to the Editor, Science 328, 1354 (2010).  She is also the co-author of the articles “Vertical Disintegration in the Pharma Industry-The Role of IP”, Intellectual Asset Management Magazine, Issue 45, Jan/Feb 2011, p. 10-15; “Robin Hood, the Magna Carta and the European Convention on Human Rights”, Intellectual Asset Management Magazine, Issue 52, March/April 2012; “Monetisation Models in Biotech and Pharma”, Intellectual Asset Management Magazine, Issue 57, January/February 2013; “Headwinds for the U.S. Biopharmaceutical Industry”, Intellectual Asset Management Magazine, Issue 73, January/February 2015; and “Twenty Years after TRIPS Agreement-Are We Closer to Global Substantive Patent Harmonization?”, Intellectual Asset Management Magazine, Issue 75, December 2015/January 2016. She was also a featured round table panelist in Financier Worldwide’s October 2017 publication on Patent Disputes

In 2016, Ms. Knowles created a non-profit foundation, “The Malmar Knowles Foundation” (“MKFF”) to provide mentorship to potential youth leaders in developing countries, with a focus on innovation, inventions and entrepreneurship. Through MKFF, Ms. Knowles created The Kectil Program (, which provides a one-year web-based mentorship program that connects promising youth in developing countries with key innovation leaders in the United States and other countries, as well as a Developing Countries Youth Leadership Conference in Atlanta Georgia, held July 28-August 6, 2017 on the campus of Emory University. The Kectil Program was first announced at the Conference on Development and Intellectual Property in April 2016, hosted by WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland. The Kectil Program was highlighted in the August 2016 issue of WIPO Magazine. The 2017 inaugural Kectil Colleagues class has 282 youth from 32 countries, and the 2018 Kectil Class now being formed will exceed this.

Ms. Knowles received her B.S., cum laude, with distinction in chemistry from Duke University and received her M.S. in organic chemistry from Clemson University.  Prior to attending law school, she spent several years at SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) as a pharmaceutical synthetic chemist. She received her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia where she was a Benjamin Phillips Scholar and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

bottom of page