Welsh & Katz founder, prominent intellectual property attorney was Husch Blackwell’s Chicago Office Managing Partner and chair of its national IP practice
With much sorrow, Husch Blackwell announces the death of A. Sidney Katz, the Managing Partner of its Chicago office and a mainstay of Chicago’s legal community for the past 46 years. Katz was a highly respected intellectual property attorney and the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions throughout his accomplished legal career.
In a message to the firm, Husch Blackwell’s CEO and Managing Partner Greg Smith said, “It is impossible to explain, in the space and time available, the significance and magnitude of Sid’s contributions to the bar, our firm and to his community. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Sid’s loving family. He will be missed by us all.”
Katz grew up in Skokie, Ill., and graduated from Niles Township High School in 1957. He went on to the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, earning his B.S. in electrical engineering in 1962. In early 2011, the university radio station named its studio — where he used to host a student radio program — in his honor.
While working full time as a patent examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Katz earned his J.D. from The George Washington University Law School in 1966, where he also was a member of the Delta Theta Phi law fraternity. He went on to be an extremely dedicated alumnus and served as an inaugural member of the dean’s Intellectual Property Advisory Board. In 2008, he endowed the A. Sidney Katz Lecture Series, which brings notable attorneys, judges and legal scholars to the university to discuss developments and issues surrounding the field of intellectual property law.
Following law school, Katz returned to Chicago to join the law offices of Leonard G. Nierman and later practiced for 15 years at the firm of Fitch, Even, Tabin, Flannery & Welsh, where he became Partner. In 1983, he co-founded Welsh & Katz to better serve the legal needs of clients in the high-technology and entertainment fields. As its chairman, Welsh & Katz grew from six attorneys to more than 50 and became a full-service intellectual property law firm known for its impressive record of success and the breadth of its international practice.
One of the attorneys he worked with for the past 25 years is Jim White, a fellow Partner at Husch Blackwell and co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Department. “From the very beginning, what has always struck me — at all of our anniversary parties through the years and at almost every one of our monthly meetings — is the emphasis Sid placed on family,” White recalled. “He made sure you knew that while the firm’s first purpose was service to our clients, its second purpose was for ‘family:’ family as law firm colleagues, family as the greater legal community and to support each of our families at home. That’s what I’ll always remember.”
In 2008, Welsh & Katz merged with Husch Blackwell, which a Chicago Tribune headline described the following day as a “meeting of the minds.” As Managing Partner of Husch Blackwell’s Chicago office, a member of its Partner Board and chair of its national intellectual property practice group, he was actively engaged in client counseling, licensing and litigation concerning all areas of intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks and copyrights. He has received significant recognition for his work in the protection of computer programs and video games under copyright laws.
In addition to serving as a patent expert in numerous patent infringement lawsuits, Katz was an accomplished lecturer at conferences and seminars sponsored by groups such as the Patent Resources Group, the U.S. Trademark Association Forum, the Practising Law Institute, the Conference of the Computer Law Association and the Second International Conference of the Japanese Amusement Machine Manufacturers in Tokyo.
He also has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career. After only 15 years in practice, Katz was awarded the 1982 Patent Resources Group Award of Distinction for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of IP Law because of his work in the protection of video games. Other awards include the Torch of Learning Award from Hebrew University and the Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee. He was a Life Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a member of the International Board of Governors of Hebrew University and, in recent years, was made an Honorary Fellow of the university.
He is survived by his wife Sheela; their daughters Julie (Todd Brill) Katz and Michele Katz (Dr. Jason) Rosenblum, both of whom are intellectual property attorneys and Husch Blackwell alumni; their son Aaron (Christine) Katz; and their six beloved grandchildren.