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Home : Volume 23 : Fall 1996 :
Distinguished Service Award for Sidney B. Williams, Jr.

Sidney B. Williams, Jr.

Sidney B. Williams, Jr.
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From the University of Wisconsin-Madison football field at Camp Randall Stadium to the often rocky terrain of intellectual property law, Sidney B. Williams, Jr., has led a most distinguished career.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Williams came to UW-Madison in the mid-1950s on an academic-athletic scholarship. On the way to his 1961 BS degree in chemical engineering, he played three seasons of varsity football -- making his mark as the Big Ten's first black quarterback -- and two years of professional ball for the New York Jets and a Canadian Football League team.

Upon graduation, Williams was hired as a research and development engineer for General American Transportation Company of East Chicago, Indiana. In 1963 he became a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., simultaneously attending George Washington University Law School. After earning his juris doctorate in 1967, he combined his engineering expertise with his newly acquired legal skills to become a patent attorney for Upjohn Company. He rose to a variety of increasingly responsible positions with the pharmaceutical manufacturer, and in 1990 was named executive director of trademarks and domestic patents.

While at Upjohn, Williams also served as an advisor to one of the company's subsidiaries, The Asgrow Seed Company, in what evolved into a precedent-setting patent case. Williams' arguments helped the seed industry win a Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences decision allowing plants to be protected by utility patents. In 1995, Williams retired from Upjohn and became of counsel to an intellectual property firm.

Recently, Williams embarked on a new adventure, building radio station WEWM in western Michigan, where he lives with his wife, Carolyn, a judge in Kalamazoo. The couple have two adult sons, Martin and Christopher.

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