Earlier today I received notification from Personalized Media Communications, LLC (PMC) that its long-time president and chief licensing strategist, Gerald Holtzman, passed away on January 8 after a long illness.
I knew Gerald and respected him — he was a friend. Over the last few years, as the patent system continually came under fire and innovators became vilified, Gerald was one of the loud voices of reason within the industry. Disgusted by what he saw happening to America’s patent system and innovation culture, Gerald tirelessly championed inventors and the need for a strong patent system for everyone.
He also never lost sight of the fact that gaming the system, no matter who is doing it, is bad for the long term vitality of the system. In an article published several months ago Gerald wrote: “[T]he PTAB is inherently subject to gamesmanship — from all directions — that destroys systemic credibility, which is undeniably bad for all parties, not just the one whose ox got gored today.”
I last saw Gerald in Chicago in November 2017 at a conference sponsored by The Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU). Gerald attended a breakout session I moderated, and we spoke before, during and after that session. Gerald continually raised the question about whether the industry was doing enough. Conferences where we speak to each other and everyone says “Amen” are fine, but Gerald continually challenged everyone to do more, engage and not just complain among friendly faces. He would challenge everyone at that conference to do more and become engaged for the betterment of the patent system.
For many years Gerald coordinated PMC’s licensing program and was directly responsible for generating major licenses with companies such as Cisco, Motorola Mobility, Sony Corporation, Rovi (now TiVo) and DirecTV. PMC’s Chief Executive Officer Mary C. “Kazie” Metzger will now assume the role of PMC President.
Professionally speaking, Gerald was extremely well regarded, and highly decorated. He was twice named by IAM magazine as a top-40 market maker in its “ranking of the main movers and shakers in the global patent transactions and investment market.”
Prior to joining PMC, beginning in 1973, Gerald practiced as a civil litigator, starting his legal career with Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston, Texas. He would then go on to co-found Holtzman & Urquhart, where he remained in private practice until 2001. Since that time he devoted his full-time professional efforts to PMC.
Gerald was also a frequent lecturer to business and professional groups, and has co-edited several legal publications. He was also a lecturer at the University of Houston for five years. He received a B.A. degree from Rice University and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.
“Gerald was a giant in the patent licensing space and a close friend,” said John Harvey, PMC Chairman and Founder. “He will be remembered not only for his success in securing agreements, but for his compassionate support of inventors and advocacy of intellectual property rights.”
Gerald was a good man, always straightforward. You always knew where Gerald stood on an issue. He was always quick with a compliment, but fiery in debate. His advocacy will be sorely missed, but more important he will be sorely missed. He was a friend in a world where you can’t have enough friends.
Rest in peace friend!
UPDATE: Below are comments from Bob Bramson, posted here at his request.
I knew Gerry Holtzman for only about five years and saw him about twice a year – at licensing meetings. Yet, I considered him one of my best friends and I believe the feeling was reciprocated. Both of us having grown up in Brooklyn (his family moved to Corpus Christi when Gerry was about 14) with immigrant Jewish roots, and with a common facility in speaking Yiddish, we just connected from the very beginning. Whenever we were together, we always spoke some Yiddish and got warm feelings from connecting with that part of our roots.
I always enjoyed being with Gerry (in retrospect I should have done it more often, but who knew?). He was warm, friendly, funny, smart and when we spoke about common interests in patents and licensing, he always had smart comments. He was obviously very talented in the patent monetization field, and I recommended him every year for the IAM 300, a listing of the top 300 people in the world in Intellectual Asset Management. Gerry spoke often and very lovingly about his wife, Staci, and his kids and I know that his absence will create a big void, but with many happy memories.
When he told me he had cancer, I started sending him jokes and other uplifting materials and can say that I did it almost daily for the last year. He told me how much he enjoyed them.
I last saw Gerry twice in the last two months: at a meeting in Chicago in November, and the two of us had dinner that Sunday. As usual, he was warm, outgoing, fun and the dinner was a delight. I saw him again last month at another meeting in New York. That’s when he told me his cancer had metastasized. But you would never know from speaking with him. His upbeat personality always shined, even when harboring those enormous health burdens.
Rest in peace Gerry, my good friend! You will be sorely missed!!