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Stephen Baird launched DuetsBlog in March 2009 to promote collaboration between legal and marketing teams. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: IP career, blog had roots in pharmacy experience

Name: Stephen Baird

Title: Shareholder, Winthrop & Weinstine

Education: B.S., pharmacy, University of Iowa College of Pharmacy; J.D., University of Iowa College of Law

Stephen Baird, shareholder at Winthrop & Weinstine, is marking the 10th anniversary of DuetsBlog, his influential online journal on branding and intellectual property law.

Baird, who has specialized in trademark and brand protection throughout his 25-plus year career, launched DuetsBlog in March 2009 to promote collaboration between legal and marketing teams.

One of eight DuetsBlog authors, Baird humbly notes that it has drawn continuing praise from entrepreneur, author and marketing guru Seth Godin.

Baird, who considered a pharmacy-related career, got interested in law after meeting pharmacists-turned-intellectual-property-lawyers during an internship.

His pharmacy experience further fueled a longtime interest in “the power and value of brands to businesses and commercial enterprises.”

“To build a career around helping protect those investments was a dream come true,” Baird said.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. No topic is off the table. If you want to wind me up like a toy, you could ask me about what my four children are up to lately. Professionally, I love it when people ask about how my blogging attracted the attention of Seth Godin.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. My path to becoming a lawyer was anything but a straight line. My family line is full of educators. So it never occurred to me until I was interning as pharmacy student for large pharmaceutical company on East Coast. That internship was supposed to confirm my idea of pursuing a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry or pharmaceutical science. Instead, I met pharmacists there that had become lawyers. Their work as FDA lawyers, patent lawyers and products liability lawyers was fascinating. I attended law school thinking I’d become a patent lawyer and work for a large pharmaceutical company. But I quickly found my passion to be more focused on trademark and brand protection.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I just finished Seth Godin’s new book, “This is Marketing.” The one that I’m working on is David Aries new book, “Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding.” He is a recognized visual branding expert in Ireland. He reached out in the early days of the blog.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. It’s pretty difficult to steal my joy on a day-to-day basis. But it’s probably also fair to say that I’m not a fan of gaslighting.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. Having the opportunity to solve difficult legal problems and prevail under difficult circumstances for a client.

Q. Least favorite?

A. Probably keeping track of time. That probably explains why many of the great lawyers that have been on my team over the years have gone to pursue in-house careers.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. Soaking it up in my outdoor hot tub, especially in the winter preferably while it’s snowing outside. That’s a wonderful spot for pondering and reflection. It’s also a wonderful family activity when my wife joins or any of my four kids.

Q. Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A. Former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page. Growing up in Iowa City, I was a huge Vikings fan. So imagine my surprise to see him begin serving on the Minnesota Supreme Court shortly after moving to the Twin Cities in ’91. His character, humility and positive spirit are inspiring attributes. It was so gratifying to see him receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year at the White House.

Q. What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney or judge?

A. The biggest misconception among the general public about lawyers that I’ve found is that lawyers ought to have the answer to any legal question. The law during my 25-plus year career as an IP lawyer has become more and more sub-specialized. As a result I always encourage others to seek out true expertise in their needed area of law.

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