Jack Clifford: The Lawyer as Chevalier

Jack Clifford2.jpgOne can imagine a lawyer celebrating a win with a bottle of Cristal, but what does the lawyer who represents Cristal, along with many other beverage clients, celebrate with? We asked Jack Clifford, an intellectual property lawyer at Merchant & Gould, that very question.

"I'm treading on dangerous ground here because of my different clients," he says, "but I did have a bottle of Cristal at my wedding two years ago."

Clifford, who's made the Minnesota Super Lawyers list the past six years, has filed 42 trademarks for champagne brands in his career. Has he ever heard of a lawyer doing more?

"I don't have any data but if there is someone I'd tip my glass," he says.

Not to mention that he's registered 147 wine trademarks. "I consider my clients artists. These are people who take risks in hope of getting a good result, and that's a special kind of person," he says.

He's an artist himself. He makes his own wine -- trademarked, of course -- and has been known to give out half-bottles as gifts.

The topper to all this trademarking and tippling? In 2010 he was named an official Chevalier in The Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, an organization founded in France in 1650 to promote the appreciation of champagne. He flew to the Trump Hotel in Chicago and put on a tux for the ceremony. That must have been one hell of a party.

"Oh yes, many fine brands of champagne were consumed that night," he says with a laugh. "They gave me a medal and a certificate. I was humbled. It was a very special night."