In Loving and Respectful Memory







Michael A. Gollin was a co-founder and longtime Chair of the Board of PIIPA. While a successful private practice IP attorney, he channeled his aspirations for global public interest IP into the creation of an NGO which would match pro bono IP experts to projects benefiting developing countries. His vision and drive led him to travel around the globe to promote and connect the first global public interest IP matchmaking program to IP assistance seekers. His pioneering work both in the private and public sector were cut short only by his diagnosis of ALS. After five years of valiant struggles, Michael left a loving family and a large community of PIIPA volunteers and friends in late November of 2017. His bright spirit will continue to be an inspiration to PIIPA and the world of global public interest IP.




Farewell to Michael Gollin, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for his great humanity and dedicated service to improve the lives of others.  We extend our deepest sympathy to his family.  Our thoughts are with them.


Francis Gurry

Director General

World Intellectual Property Organization



It was with shock and sadness I received your special message about Michael Gollin. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with Michael in the mid to late 2000s while working for the Quaker UN Office in Geneva and Quaker International Affairs Programme in Canada. Along with my colleague from QIAP, Tasmin Rajotte, we edited a book called 'The Future Control of Food: A Guide to International Negotiations and Rule on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity and Food Security’. Michael was very supportive of the work we did with negotiators from developing countries at the World Trade Organisation and gave valuable feedback on the book and supported our broader work. We were pleased to be able to include a box about the work of PIIPA in the book. Michael was also very welcoming when I visited him in Washington DC. I am sure he will be greatly missed by friends, family and the many people he worked with. While my connection with him was only for a short period of his life, his contribution to our work was wholehearted and gracious. I have just been reading some of the many things he left on his blog which are both very moving and inspiring. Thank you Michael.


Geoff Tansey

Working for fair and sustainable food systems

CuratorFood Systems Academy 

Chair, Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty - read Hungry for Change, our final report; support EndHungerUK

MemberFood Ethics Council

Honorary Teaching FellowLancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University

Honorary Research Fellow, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University 

Honorary Fellow, Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University 




I met Michael back in the 1990s when he was first establishing PIIPA, and the issues around access and benefit sharing related to wild genetic resources were heating up around the Biodiversity Convention, “bioprospecting” and “biopiracy”.  Michael brought a practical set of tools and strategies into that heated debate, in innovative ways that tangibly supported the public interest, and continue to do so.  He will be missed, honored, and long remembered.


Charles Barber

Director, Forest Legality Initiative, Forests Program

World Resources Institute




I don’t recall how I actually met Michael, but somehow (perhaps through Joshua Rosenthal) Michael was connected with the American University Glushko-Samuelson IP Law Clinic and to me.  I first interacted with him in the course of implementing PIIPA’s first grant – to assist NIH with a conference about its intergovernmental research grant program and the relationship of research to biodiversity.  From the first, I was impressed with the same feeling I continue to have – this is a man with a life well lived.  Michael was smart, insightful, engaged, effective, charming, and kind.  Most of all, Michael was optimistic. 


We interacted over the course of many years in regard to many PIIPA projects, and enjoyed many subsequent successes and managed through financial difficulties of PIIPA.  Michael always focused on the good that the organization he had created had achieved, and even more on the continuing opportunities that it had to do so.  He weathered the vicissitudes of disappointment without being visibly affected.  Failure simply did not occur to him; adversity only led him to change strategies.


Michael faced his growing disability with similar optimism and engagement, and unsurprisingly became an advocate for the cause.  Well into his illness, I had the privilege to visit him at home. Michael remained interested in what I had to tell him and cared to share with me more of his amazing prior work on issues of common interest.  As I have also since learned from interacting with some of his former colleagues at Venable, where he spent most of his professional life, his kindness and quiet dignity affected all around him.  He will be sorely missed, but his spirit will live on through the institutions and people that he touched over the years.


Josh Sarnoff

Professor of Law

DePaul University College of Law




In 2012, I first got to learn about what a wonderful man Michael Gollin was. I was acquainted with PIPPA and I was in awe of the man, Michael, the primary driver behind the vision, passion and energy for providing pro bono IP services to developing countries.


In 2013 our company worked with PIIPA on a project in Colombia, Enhancing Opportunities in the Canadian Market for Innovative High-Value Colombian Agricultural Products. I had the privilege and the pleasure of working with Michael, on the ground in Colombia.


I watched firsthand how Michaels’ knowledge was transferred to the participants in the project. I sat in awe of his ability to explain complex issues to agricultural growers with very different backgrounds, enabling them all to understand and appreciate how they could develop and protect their livelihood. How he empowered people, how he made complex simple, understandable and within reach.


I was so very fortunate to have had the opportunity to discuss IP, and so much more over dinners with Michael and his team. He made us laugh, think and plan.


His work, his thinking, his dedication has meant and continue to mean so much to so many. I am one of the many who will miss him dearly.


Pernille Fischer Boulter, CEO and Founder of Kisserup Inc., Kisserup Arctic and Kisserup Europe.




I was saddened by the passing of Michael.  To me, Michael was a friend, a teacher and a person who believed that I could contribute to the IP world.  I made acquaintance with Michael when I saw a job ad on craigslist after I graduated from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 2009   He contacted me and invited me to an interview in his office in Washington DC.  I made the trip and he introduced me to PIIPA.  During this first meeting I was fascinated by his idea for PIIPA, an organization that helps IP stakeholders to realize their ideas yet help humanity.  In my mind it was a great concept which would promote people to care about each other, the least privileged, pushing us to think about ways to help each other, to contribute to the public and stimulates people to get creative and take altruistic actions to help each other and advance the technology.  It was such a genuine concept!  Many people think that IP is all about money and exploitation but Michael gave it a twist and turned it into something that would benefit both the people who conceive the ideas and the public.  


After he hired me as a pro bono coordinator, for which I am forever grateful - as the job helped me stay in the IP world (I was probably one of the first pro bono coordinators at PIIPA), I audited his class at Intellectual Property Summer Institute (IPSI) at Franklin Pierce Law Center where he taught as an adjunct professor.  I enjoyed his class as he was a great educator and had so much experience in IP.  I also enjoyed working at PIIPA, mostly because of him, I got to meet with small inventors and IP professionals from around the world - albeit through telephone calls and teleconferences, as well as helping coordinating IP landscape projects for international IP workshops and technology transfer offices in developing countries.  I could see from the people who worked with him that they looked up to him and believed in him.  Later on, I also connected with one of the editors of  the Intellectual Property Handbook that was published on behalf of PIIPA and helped with the editing before its publication.  I was amazed at how he could bring these people with great expertise to contribute to the book that benefit the public and the people in the developing countries.  It was an honor for me to be given this opportunity to work indirectly with these people. 


I kept in touch with Michael after I moved to Canada and continued to work for PIIPA remotely for a while.  When I heard that he retired from PIIPA due to his health problems, I was shocked.  It never occurred to me that he was sick.  He looked so healthy and always composed and calm.  


I always thought of him every now and then especially during Thanksgiving and Holiday season and we exchanged emails and wishes.  When I read about his passing, I felt that I lost a teacher, a friend and a guide.  I know he is in peace now and his spirit continues to live on within PIIPA. He lives in every inventor, artist, IP stakeholder that PIIPA helps every day and in every IP professional who volunteers and helps PIIPA grow.


Farewell, Michael, rest in peace, you are not gone and never forgotten!


Thank you for believing in me and for inspiring me! 


Your student and IP Corp member,


Respectfully yours,


Alexandra  Suryakristianto




LIving in Geneva and working on intellectual property issues, I met on several occasions Michael and was always impressed by his commitment, involvement in social causes particularly in his work with developing countries. Great analytical capacity and a great human being. I learned very recently that he was not well and of  his passing away. My respects to his family and close friends,

Pedro Roffe

Pedro ROFFE is Senior Fellow at ICTSD where I have overseen the work of the Program on Intellectual Property and Development. Mr. Roffe joined ICTSD with 30 years of experience with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where his work focused on international aspects of technology transfer, intellectual property and foreign direct investment.




Michael was a very special person and I feel very fortunate to have known him.  My first interaction with Mike was in the context of legal dispute where we were on the opposing sides of a case and for which we had exchanged communications on behalf of our clients. I was impressed with his professionalism and respect and consideration with which he dealt with all.  Some years later we met face-to-face at an event dinner where we happened to be seated at the same table with other participants. We realized that although we had been on the opposing sides we shared a common vision and purpose and soon embarked on a long-term collaboration – working on the PIIPA projects, participation on panels at BIO, LES and other meetings, and many insightful discussions on IP management for non-profits. Michael combined a keen intellect and legal mind with a deep caring for those less advantaged, and this was so much in evidence in his steadfast commitment and leadership on PIPA.  I am grateful for his friendship and how he made all of us a part of his family. He was so full of life and his interests extended to so many different facets of life including travel, music, poetry and love for life. He will be remembered and cherished for all these qualities and more.  Michael touched us all and he will be missed.

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” 
 Rabindranath Tagore

Rita Khanna,

PIIPA Board Member,

Legal Counsel and Business Development Professional at International Technology Transfer Management, Inc.





I have a magic notebook

Filled with inspirational memories.

There is a page for Michael.

He demonstrates how to be,

Professional yet compassionate

Thoughtful yet critical

Above all

He cared.

His devotion to helping others

A bright star now.

Victoria Henson-Apollonio,

Former CGIAR IP Manager,

PIIPA Senior Advisor




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