Carl Horton, a dear IPO member and friend, passed away on December 31, 2016, following a two-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer. His passing represents a great loss to the IPO family on both a personal and a professional level.
“To say he was brilliant, dynamic and genuine is an understatement,” said Carl’s family in his obituary. “Whatever he put his mind to he accomplished, including numerous triathlons, church callings, and career opportunities.”
As Vice President & Chief IP Counsel at General Electric Co. (GE), where he worked from 1992 until his passing, a former IPO Vice President, and active IPO member, Carl demonstrated a commitment to and passion for his work and for intellectual property advocacy that was surpassed only by his love for family and for life. Carl grew up in Pullman, Washington and Idaho Falls, Idaho. He attended Brigham Young University for one year before serving a Latter-day Saints mission in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, and later received a Chemical Engineering degree with honors from the University of Utah and a Juris Doctorate degree cum laude from George Washington University.
“He was an inspiring person,” remarked Buck de Wolf, Carl’s longtime colleague at GE and close friend. “He was always the first one in and last one out of the office; he was a real ‘bootstraps’ kind of guy, and his success at GE was a big part of who he was.” Outside of the office, Carl was extremely active as well; he trained aggressively for triathlons and traveled extensively. “He was always upbeat, even in the midst of his illness,” Mr. de Wolf recalled.
In an address to the Brigham Young University Management Society in November 2016, Carl explained that his positive outlook came from his father, who used to live by the Abraham Lincoln quote, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” He implored his audience to “be happy; life is a gift,” and said that his diagnosis of Gliomatosis cerebri—a very rare form of brain cancer that usually affects children and young adults—in many ways had a positive effect on his life. “My diagnosis changed my perspective more dramatically than anything else in my life,” he said. Having a terminal diagnosis helped him to prioritize family and to achieve more of the balance between work and personal life that he spent his life trying to strike. He advised his audience that, to be a good leader, one should “avoid judging anyone for anything, because you may cut off the potential for a valuable relationship,” “be humble,” and “be authentic.” When asked by a colleague what superpower he would choose to have if given the choice, he said “ultimate empathy.”
“Carl was a terrific manager and mentor, but most importantly he was a great friend to me and many others,” said Frank Landgraff, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel for GE Power, and Carl’s colleague of 15 years. In his most recent position, Carl was responsible for all IP matters across the company and was an advisor to many. “I could call him with anything; he was always willing to help out,” said Mr. Landgraff, who also described Carl as “humble” and “always open to feedback.”
Carl’s brother, Kenneth Horton, a shareholder and IP attorney at Kirton|McConkie in Salt Lake City, Utah, reiterated Carl’s strong passion for IP. He recalled how, upon moving up at GE and taking on more of a policy role, Carl developed quickly into a natural spokesman and vocal advocate for IP. Mr. Horton added that Carl loved his work for IPO and would have liked to move into an even greater leadership role with the Association, but knew his other commitments would not allow him to give 100%. “Carl had to give it his all or nothing,” said Mr. Horton. He is one of five siblings Carl leaves behind.
In addition to serving as IPO Vice President in 2014, Carl also served as IPO Treasurer, the officer in charge of the 2014 Annual Meeting, and a leader on a number of IPO committees. He received the IPO President’s Distinguished Service Award in 2014 in recognition of his leadership and dedication to IPO over a substantial number of years. IPO Executive Director Mark Lauroesch said, “Carl’s passion for IP was palpable, and his humility and diplomacy were assets to both the IP community and in his friendships. We will miss him greatly.”
Carl and his wife, Jessica, were married in 1986 and have four children: C. Blaine, Trevor, Brock, and Dasha. “To say he was brilliant, dynamic and genuine is an understatement,” said Carl’s family in his obituary. “Whatever he put his mind to he accomplished, including numerous triathlons, church callings, and career opportunities.”
True to his giving spirit, Carl donated his brain to science to help enhance cancer research. Donations may be made in memory of Carl Horton to St. Vincent’s brain tumor center in care of Dr. Blondin, 75 Old Kings Hwy Cut-Off, Floor 5, Fairfield, Connecticut 06824, or to a GoFundMe account set up by Carl’s wife at https://www.gofundme.com/donateforcarlhorton.