Earlier this afternoon the Pierce IP Center at the University of New Hampshire School of Law announced via Twitter that Professor Karl Jorda has passed away.
I had the opportunity to get to know Karl while I attended Franklin Pierce Law Center a generation ago. Through my good fortune as a first year law student I was assigned to perform my work-study for Professor Jorda, who became one of my mentors, and ultimately my friend. When I returned to obtain a Master of Laws, Karl was one of my advisors for my thesis. Despite the fact that he had reached the highest pinnacles within our industry, Karl always had time for me and so many other students like me who he so greatly influenced.
Karl will be deeply missed, although there is no doubt that his legacy will live on in the many people he touched and inspired.
Karl Jorda was a giant in the intellectual property world, but more importantly he was a genuinely nice and good person. All the good things that people will say and write about Karl over the next several days, weeks and months will be true. He was just that kind of man. Everyone who knew Karl was better off for having known this true Renaissance man.
Not only did Karl speak multiple languages fluently, he was an avid gardener, and a bee keeper too. He also seemed to have the ability to instantly befriend anyone he met, and his friends would do pretty much anything Karl would ask. For decades Franklin Pierce Law Center would play host to the biggest names in the intellectual property world thanks to Karl, who would invite his colleagues from literally all over the globe to come and spend some time in Concord, New Hampshire, imparting their wisdom on a diverse array of students gathered in the small north eastern community. Indeed, Karl was the type of person everyone always seemed to say “yes” to because you couldn’t envision letting him down.
Karl Jorda immigrated to the United States in 1951. He attended the University of Great Falls, Montana, where he graduated in 1953 Summa Cum Laude. He then received a Masters degree in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame in 1954, and a law degree also from the University of Notre Dame in 1957.
Jorda became most known within the industry as the Chief IP Counsel and Director of the IP Department at Ciba-Geigy Corporation, a position he held from 1963-1989. Ciba-Geigy does not exist today, but parts of the company now make up Novartis and Syngenta. After retiring from Ciba-Geigy, Jorda moved to New Hampshire where he became a professor of law at Franklin Pierce Law Center.
Jorda accomplished much during his life and received a great many honors. Chief among them would be the 1996 Jefferson Medal from the New Jersey Intellectual Property Law Association, which is regarded by many (including myself) as the highest honor one can receive in the United States within our industry. Jorda was also rightfully inducted into the global Intellectual Property Hall of Fame in 2007 for “an outstanding contribution to the development of intellectual property law and practice, thereby helping to establish intellectual property as one of the key business assets of the 21st century.”
For me, Karl was much more than an icon — he was one the greatest influences on my career and style as a lawyer. I recall many of his lessons as if they were taught only yesterday. He would tell us to always be “green light lawyers” that help the client achieve their goals and never to be “red light lawyers” who only say no, it can’t be done.
I never heard Karl say a negative word about anyone, although he certainly loved to debate issues — and with great passion. He was a true believer in the power of intellectual property, a first class gentleman and a friend to those who knew him. His indomitable spirit was infectious and will be sorely missed.
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 24, 2016, at 5:49pm