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Merchant & Gould names Chris Leonard as CEO, John Winemiller as Knoxville managing partner

March 28, 2018

National intellectual property law firm Merchant & Gould has named Christopher J. Leonard, managing partner of the Knoxville, Tennessee, office, as CEO starting July 1, 2018. He will succeed Brian H. Batzli as the firm’s CEO, managing director and chairman of the board.

John Winemiller has been named managing partner of the Knoxville office as Leonard moves into his new role as CEO.

Founded in 1900, Merchant & Gould practices in all areas of intellectual property law and has offices in Atlanta, Denver, Knoxville, Madison, Minneapolis, New York, Silicon Valley and the Washington, D.C. area.  Leonard will manage the firm’s operations throughout the United States and internationally through associated foreign counsel.

“Chris Leonard is a wonderful choice to be the next CEO of Merchant & Gould,” Batzli said. “He has over 24 years of experience in intellectual property law and has served for many years in firm management. He is a trusted leader here at Merchant & Gould – as is John Winemiller, who will follow in Chris’ footsteps as the managing partner in Knoxville. I know that the future for our firm and our clients is in good hands.”

“Building and supporting the reach and impact of Merchant & Gould, serving our clients from Atlanta to Knoxville and beyond, has been the highlight of my career,” Leonard said. “I am proud to continue that work as CEO, ensuring that we continue to deliver unparalleled technical experience, unmatched value, lasting partnerships and a commitment to diversity. Furthermore, I am pleased that my friend and colleague John Winemiller will be doing the same from the Knoxville office.”

Christopher Leonard

Leonard founded and managed the firm’s Atlanta office for eight years beginning in 2000 and then founded the Knoxville office in 2008. He also served on the firm’s executive committee for seven years, and he served as chair of the firm’s Electrical and Software Practice Group twice.

Beginning his career as an intellectual property attorney in 1994, Leonard’s practice is focused on counseling clients on matters relating to software, electronic commerce, healthcare data management systems, telecommunications and traditional electrical and mechanical technologies. His practice currently encompasses U.S. and international patent prosecution, patent infringement and validity analysis, and licensing counseling. He also has extensive litigation experience in all areas of intellectual property law, including patent, trademark, copyright, trade secrets and unfair competition. Leonard, a registered patent attorney before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, also is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the State Bar of Georgia and the Knoxville Bar Association.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Leonard served as an officer in the United States Air Force where he worked with the ground-launched cruise missile weapon system. In that position, he was selected as one of the officers to lead Soviet weapons inspectors through detailed inspections of U.S. nuclear weapons systems in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Leonard holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Tennessee (UT), a certificate in Software Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the UT College of Law. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School General Management Program and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

John Winemiller

Winemiller joined Merchant & Gould in 2008. He focuses his practice on patent, trademark, trade secret, unfair competition and copyright litigation, as well as intellectual property licensing issues and trademark, patent and copyright counseling and prosecution. He has represented clients in a broad range of industries, from electrical switches and electronic pet products, to hosiery manufacturers and home builders. He also has extensive experience with commercial litigation, alternative dispute resolution and appeals in state and federal courts.

Winemiller earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in music history and theory from the University of Chicago. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was a faculty member at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he taught courses in music history, music theory and performance practice. His academic research focused on the nexus between the creative process and eighteenth-century conceptions of intellectual property. His interest in the theory of ownership of ideas led him to law school and, ultimately, to Merchant & Gould. Before joining the firm, he held prestigious clerkships with federal judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Winemiller is a sought-after writer, speaker and teacher. He is an adjunct professor at the UT College of Law, where he has taught classes on trademark law, civil procedure and litigation matters. He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association, the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the Tennessee Intellectual Property Law Association, as well as a member and Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and Knoxville Bar Foundation. He is member of the Hamilton Burnett American Inn of Court.

About Merchant & Gould
Merchant & Gould P.C. is a national intellectual property law firm with more than 100 attorneys in offices in Knoxville, Tennessee; Atlanta; Denver; Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis; New York; Silicon Valley; and the Washington, D.C. area. Founded in Minneapolis in 1900, the firm has grown to become one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States, representing the worldwide intellectual property interests of clients in diverse industries and technologies. For more information, visit