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Stephen R. Baird

Design and execution of a sound, creative legal strategy is the key to achieving your brand goals.

My Approach

Driven to excellence, yet affable. Deeply passionate and proactive, while innately practical. Steadfastly confident without a hint of arrogance. These are a few of the key threads within the DNA of my consistent approach in representing and advising clients, in building and guiding teams, and in trailblazing thought leadership, especially when it comes to pressing into the outer edges of trademark, brand protection, and intellectual property law. This is the essence of my personal and professional brand.

After two decades of focusing my practice on developing and executing creative and sound legal strategies for the benefit of those companies and brands that have trusted me and my team with protecting their most important brands and other intellectual property assets, I’m both honored and humbled by the validation and enormous generosity of one of the most well-recognized giants in the IP world who has repeatedly labeled me, “redoubtable.”

Whether speaking to my talented team, a group of more than a thousand lawyers, general or intellectual property counsel, chambers of commerce, boards of directors, top senior executives, small business owners, marketing directors, design professionals, brand managers, or one-on-one with a brand new or longstanding client, my approach is always about delivering clarity, infused with valuable, actionable, and compelling information, perspective, and insight.

It does not escape me that clients loathe legal mumbo jumbo. Understood. Fence-sitting is awful. And, they especially don’t appreciate or seek “50/50,” “it-could-go-either-way,” or the ever-so-unhelpful “flip-of-the-coin” legal analysis and advice. So, my approach is quite different than most. My professional passion is to avoid these all-to-common limited mindsets like the plague. Instead, I have chosen to tap and employ the full depth of knowledge, experience, courage, and creativity, that I bring to the table every day, to design, craft, direct, and uniquely position each and every trademark, brand protection and intellectual property strategy delivered to my clients.

When it comes to speaking with judges, fact-finders, decision-makers, and even adversaries of my clients, it’s all about preparation and a keen focus on executing the art of persuasion. This may explain why some adversaries eventually have become clients and why we’ve won more than a few cases the critics said we weren’t supposed to win. One of my favorite testimonials — from a generous and accomplished business leader and professional — described me, for the Minnesota Attorney of the Year award, as “the quintessential catalyst who gets things done.”

A Groundbreaking Moment in my Career

Very early in my work as a young intellectual property lawyer, I was fortunate to receive a valuable and uncommon insight from a boss and mentor that continues to guide me like a beacon each day: Clients can always hire a monkey to tell them, “no,” so what makes us worth our salt is somehow finding a creative way to legally reach “yes.”

To properly design a creative and suitable brand protection or intellectual property strategy for a client and position my advice for their success, I’m relentless in seeking to understand my client, its business, industry, goals, objectives, challenges, and limitations.

A more academic and less practical approach to legal analysis and advice has stunted the growth of many young lawyers, but thankfully this early insight catapulted my growth and development. To illustrate the point, as a very young lawyer, I was fortunate to be in a position to passionately serve as lead outside trademark counsel for several of the most well-known brands in the upper-Midwest at that time. These early leadership roles played a critical role in my early development.

It was no accident that world-renown entrepreneur and best-selling author Seth Godin’s blog post entitled “Looking for yes” served as the springboard for launching our top ten, critically-acclaimed and award-winning branding and intellectual property law blog that we named DuetsBlog. As founder, lead author and creative brain behind our longstanding effort to “facilitate a more graceful collaboration between lawyers and marketers,” my inaugural blog post from 2009 sought to distance us from the proverbial “Dr. No and the Parade of Horribles.”

Although totally unexpected, it was quite gratifying and humbling to have Seth Godin publish a comment four years after our launch of DuetsBlog, saying: “Happy Birthday! We’re super-lucky to have you . . . .” And, the generous and encouraging comments he has posted consistently since then have been much appreciated by me and the entire team.

It was even more gratifying, humbling, and validating to have Seth Godin praise DuetsBlog as “brilliant,” “endlessly interesting,” “filled with opinion,” and “generous in who it links to,” among other accolades, in his 2015 best-selling online Freelancer course available on Udemy.

All of the accolades surrounding the sustained success of DuetsBlog reinforce and bring in full-circle the early and valuable insight I learned about avoiding the Dr. No mindset, and they also bring to life our more positive day-to-day mantra of patiently and persistently “looking for yes.”

Practice Areas

Honors & Awards

Top Author

JD Supra Readers’ Choice Awards, 2017

Attorney of the Year and Circle of Excellence

Minnesota Lawyer, 2013

IP Star

Managing IP, 2013-2017

World Trademark Review 1000

2013-2018

AV Preeminent

LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell, Peer review ratings

Attorney of the Year

Minnesota Lawyer, 2011

Best Lawyers in America©

Minneapolis Lawyer of the Year: Trademark Law, 2017
Copyright Law, 2012-2018
Trademark Law, 2013-2018
Litigation - Intellectual Property, 2014-2018

Minnesota Super Lawyers®

2004-2017

Top 100 Lawyers

Minnesota Super Lawyers®, 2014

Top 50 Trademark Attorneys

Name Protect Trademark Insider, 2004-2007

Top U.S. Trademark Filer #6

Name Protect Trademark Insider, 2004-2007

Forty Under Forty Award

CityBusiness, 2000

Brand Names Education Foundation Ladas Memorial Award for Writing Excellence

First Prize, 1992

Associations & Memberships

William Mitchell College of Law’s Intellectual Property Summer 1997 Institute

Adjunct Professor

The Trademark Reporter

Editorial Board, 1992-1994, 1998-1999

International Trademark Association

Member
Brief Amicus Committee, 1995-1997

William Mitchell College of Law Intellectual Property Development

Advisory Board

Minnesota State Bar Association

Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association

The University of Iowa

Member, The College of Pharmacy Executive Leadership Board

Stafford Publications

Member, Intellectual Property Law Advisory Board