John Gould, a giant in the field of intellectual property law and a founder of the Minneapolis firm Merchant & Gould, died this week. He was 88.
During a 60-year career, Gould helped start-up Minnesota companies become national and international leaders in their field. His early clients included 3M, Honeywell, Medtronic, the Mayo Clinic, Fingerhut, Donaldson and the former Norwest Bank, which became Wells Fargo.
Under Gould's direction, trademarks that became household names were developed, including SoftSoap, the Red Wing Shoe Co. and Radisson hotels.
"John really was one of the pillars in intellectual property law in this town for a long time," said Brian Batzli, the firm's current managing director and chairman. "He mentored a lot of people who are still doing a lot of IP litigation here."
The law firm sponsored a luncheon and reception to celebrate Gould's 60th year there. Guests included some of Gould's clients and attorneys who learned the art of IP law under Gould's tutelage.
One of those was Terry Qualey, a former partner at the firm and a lawyer at 3M.
"He was always willing to talk to me and just help," Qualey said. "He had high moral and ethical standards. He was a great lawyer and a great family man."
Gould graduated from Minneapolis Marshall High School in 1945 as valedictorian. He studied electrical engineering and physics at the University of Minnesota and received a bachelor's degree in 1950. He graduated from its Law School in 1953.
Gould's first job was as a law clerk at Honeywell, which was then a Minnesota-based company. He entered private practice at Whiteley & Caine before being recruited in 1954 by Ralph Merchant to be the third attorney at Merchant & Merchant. Gould became a name partner in 1960.
Today, Merchant & Gould is a firm with 105 attorneys, 10 technical advisers and offices in Seattle, Denver, Madison, Wis., Knoxville, Tenn., Washington, D.C., New York and Atlanta, with another office scheduled to open in Silicon Valley.
Gould was comfortable in a courtroom. He took more than 30 IP cases to trial — a relatively large number of patent and trademark trials in an area of law where most cases are settled out of court.
"And he won most of them," said Batzli.
Over the years, Gould was honored for his work, including being named the Minnesota Law Review's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.
"John has always demonstrated the highest degree of ethical conduct and integrity," said U.S. District Judge David Doty, who knew Gould for 50 years and called him "a leader in the intellectual properties bar."
Outside of the law firm, Gould had long been active with the Minneapolis Rotary and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Edina.