Kernochan Remembered as IP Advocate in Service
By MIRIAM FURMAN
January 11, 2007 (New York) -- Family, friends, colleagues and former students gathered together for a warm and eloquent tribute to John M. Kernochan '48, Nash Professor Emeritus of Law and leading intellectual property law advocate, who died October 29, 2007. Founder of Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at the Law School, Kernochan, who was also a talented composer, musician, and music publisher, made a name for himself at Columbia and nationally as a tireless champion of authors’ rights.
The Biava Quartet performed several of his classical works during the service, providing attendees with a fuller portrait of the man they came to honor and remember. All of Kernochan’s five children participated in the service, which included his grandchildren’s readings of some of his short poems.
In a theatrical production of which arts aficionado Kernochan would have been proud, photos of the man throughout his life were flashed on a screen above his children as they summarized his life story. Five faculty members – calling themselves the Motley Singers -- performed a parody set to the tune of “Camelot,”with new lyrics by Laurence Holzman, which students had composed in Kernochan’s honor when he retired in 1990. A premier collector and publisher of Renaissance Madrigals, Kernochan used to encourage faculty and students alike to participate in his weekly lunchtime singing group.
Adjunct professor I. Fred Koenigsberg '72, a partner at White & Case, LLP, and a leading practitioner of IP law, representing Walt Disney Co. and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), said he credits Professor Kernochan for his career success. “I like to think I represent the generations of students he mentored,” he said about the professor who introduced him to the head of ASCAP, with whom he got his first job. “His devotion to his students didn’t stop at graduation,” he said. “Many IP lawyers owe their entire career to Jack.”
Michael Sovern, Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and President Emeritus of the University, said, “Kernochan put IP on the map in the nation’s law schools. Also, he had a fantastic eye for talent and recruited several prominent professors to the Law School faculty. He left us with a solid legacy and helped to put in place stronger laws to protect intellectual property.”
“He was an inspiring teacher and scholar,” said Adria G. Kaplan, former Kernochan Center Executive Director who worked with Kernochan for more than 30 years. “He believed deeply in the value of the arts and their contribution to society. The stature and pre-eminence of the center that bears his name is an asset to Columbia Law School.”
Kernochan Center Executive Director June Besek read remarks from Co-director Jane Ginsburg, Morton L. Janklow Professor of Intellectual and Artistic Property Law, who was unable to attend. “I can’t imagine a more important advocate of creativity,” Ginsburg said. “He counseled me to always keep the interests of the author in sight.”