by Robert W. Sacoff, Partner
As a student at Northwestern University School of Law, I had the good fortune to take Beverly Pattishall’s course on “Trademarks, Trade Identity and Unfair Competition.” This year, I chaired the INTA Pattishall Medal Committee. Here’s a little background on Mr. Pattishall, the Medal and the 2016 recipient, Dr. Annette Kur.
Mr. Pattishall (1916-2002) was born in Atlanta, Georgia, educated at Northwestern and the University of Virginia, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander in the U.S. Navy, commanding combat ships in World War II. After the war he returned to Chicago and began his distinguished legal career, focusing on trademark and unfair competition cases, and also devoted his energies to teaching the subject in law school courses. He unveiled this fascinating and important field of law to me and many others, at a time when it was not widely taught in depth in law schools. An active trial lawyer, he brought his classes to life with case experiences and litigation tips from the trenches.
To honor his educational contributions, the Pattishall, McAuliffe firm created the Pattishall Medal for Teaching Excellence in 1997, in conjunction with INTA’s Brand Names Education Foundation. This quadrennial Medal is awarded to top educators in the field, who have been nominated by their peers and students based on their:
- Professional and academic recognition
- Peer and student evaluation
- Innovation in methodology and commitment to education in the field of trademarks and trade identity
Past recipients of the Medal are:
- 1997 Arthur J. Greenbaum
- 2000 J. Thomas McCarthy
- 2004 Roger Schecter
- 2008 Graeme Dinwoodie
- 2012 David Vaver
In recent years, law school and business school courses relating to trademarks and branding have become more widespread and popular. The 2016 Pattishall Medal Committee, consisting of Bob Sacoff (Chair), Seth Appel, Mary Kevlin, Tina Pompey and Daniel Zohny, had the difficult task of selecting the winner from 31 excellent nominees. The Committee members reviewed all resumes, nominating papers, articles, and other submitted materials.
After narrowing the field and deliberating on the finalist, the Committee unanimously agreed the 2016 Pattishall Medal should be awarded to Prof. Dr. Annette Kur, Affiliated Research Fellow, Intellectual Property and Competition Law, Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, in Munich. One of Dr. Kur’s nominators summed up her career as follows:
“Professor Kur has been a leading international scholar and teacher in trade mark law for over three decades. Her name is perhaps most closely associated with the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property Law in Munich, where she has been the leading trade mark (and designs) expert for many years. Most recently, she was a principal author of the Study on the Functioning of the European Trade Mark System commissioned by the European Commission in advance of preparing its proposals that led to the recently-adopted Trade Mark Reform package. (That Study itself is a wonderful teaching tool. It sets out European trademark law in such a lucid but critical fashion that we assign pages of the Study in our trademark law classes at Oxford).”
In another recommendation, a former student of Dr. Kur’s wrote:
“In addition to her scholarship and legislative accomplishments, Dr. Kur has also had a huge impact inside of the classroom. . . As a testament to the high regard the academic community has for Professor Kur, she was even a past president of the International Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research in Intellectual Property (ATRIP). . . On a more personal note, as a past student of Professor Kur’s, I have always felt profoundly lucky to have studied under her direction. Indeed, I traveled halfway across the world to do so, and upon reflection, I could not be happier with the decision. Dr. Kur was everything you would want in a supervisor: deeply insightful, generously accessible, painfully honest (when needed), genuinely understanding, and remarkably inspiring.”
Yet another former student of Dr. Kur’s wrote:
“Professor Annette Kur demonstrates true understanding of her students. I cannot express my appreciation for research freedom she allowed me during my Ph.D. project. I am well aware of the fact that I could not progress so strongly under any other professor at the institute, as I did under Professor Annette Kur.”
Dr. Kur’s teaching activities have spanned many schools in many countries, including the United States. One of her American colleagues wrote:
“I’ve known Professor Kur for close to twenty years, most especially from co-teaching International Intellectual Property Law with her when she is in residence at NYU as a Global Professor. Because I attend all the classes she teaches in our course, I can say with absolute confidence that she is a truly astonishing instructor. She brings a wealth of knowledge to her students’ attention and does so in a wonderfully well-organized manner. She helps the students develop a historical understanding of current law, a mastery of the issues, and a good sense of the differing approaches that countries can take to resolving hard questions in whatever specific field she is teaching.”
Dr. Kur’s list of academic prizes and honors, books, articles, monographs and other publications (in both German and English), research papers and conference reports, transcends the space available here to comment upon or summarize. Suffice it to say that she is truly a leading light in trademark and intellectual property thought leadership and education, and it is our sincere pleasure to award the 2016 Pattishall Medal to her. Mr. Pattishall would be proud of her.