LawTalkers  

Go Back   LawTalkers > Regional Forums > DC

» Site Navigation
 > FAQ
» Online Users: 109
1 members and 108 guests
Hank Chinaski
Most users ever online was 4,499, 10-26-2015 at 08:55 AM.
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-28-2003, 07:37 AM   #1
On n'a qu'une vie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Lightbulb I want my K

See, its a conspiracy. Every time I achieve a Board milestone, they close down the board. Well, you're desperate attempts to deprive me of my deserved notoriety will not drive me away.

I'll find a way. Just watch.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 08:56 AM   #2
coup_d'skek
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: I want my K

Quote:
Originally posted by On n'a qu'une vie
I want my K
If you ask leagl all nice and purty like, she just might add a counter. I wouldn't ask burger, given that he stole your last k, he'd diss you for kicks.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 09:20 AM   #3
On n'a qu'une vie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
DC=centric news

Comments?

As Patent Firms Fall, D.C. Boutiques Stay Strong

Jenna Greene
Legal Times
03-28-2003


When Silicon Valley's Skjerven Morrill voted last month to dissolve, it seemed to confirm an increasingly widespread assumption: IP boutiques are a vanishing breed.

In recent years, more than three dozen intellectual property shops have been consumed in mergers. Other boutiques have folded in the face of increased competition from general practice firms. And the spectacular implosion of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison shows the peril of over-reliance on one sector for clients.

But it's different in Washington.

"D.C. firms are a little more stable," says Hildebrandt Inc. consultant Lisa Smith. "They've carved out a distinct niche and, in most cases, will survive."

Washington IP firms have used their proximity to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to dominate patent and trademark prosecution. Still, local boutique leaders are paying close attention to the fates of their competitors and adjusting their strategies accordingly.

To R. Danny Huntington, chairman of 100-lawyer Burns, Doane, Swecker & Mathis in Alexandria, Va., the recent demise of Los Angeles' Lyon & Lyon illustrates the risk of relying too heavily on IP litigation. "Their biggest problem was they moved the focus to litigation," then couldn't maintain the business, he says.

Jorge Goldstein, managing partner of the District's Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, agrees: "They got eaten alive by the general law firms."

Indeed, as the value of corporate intellectual property has soared, competition for IP litigation, which can yield millions in legal fees, has gotten much more intense.

IP litigation can be "life and death" for a company, says consultant Peter Zeughauser of the Zeughauser Group in Newport Beach, Calif. With so much on the line, "the outside-counsel hiring decision is now made in the general counsel's office, not the IP counsel's office, where it used to be."

Instead of the in-house patent lawyer calling up his friends at the IP firm that handles the company's patent applications, the general counsel is tapping the lawyers he works with most often -- those from general practice firms. Plus, hiring a well-known firm provides cover if the matter doesn't go well.

Zeughauser predicts, "Except in limited circumstances, we're going to see a significant segmentation in the market, with patent prosecution on one hand and firms that do high-stakes IP litigation on the other hand."

WHAT THEY DO BEST

Huntington at Burns Doane says his firm is feeling the competition, and while litigation still accounts for one-third of its business, the emphasis these days is on patent prosecution. "We're concentrating on trying to build work within the U.S., developing relationships with clients, getting to know the individual inventors," he says.

Burns Doane is also stepping up marketing efforts -- one of Lyon & Lyon's reported shortcomings. And it brought on World Intellectual Property Organization veteran Albert Tramposch to build a trademark practice based on the recently ratified Madrid Protocol.

"Our vision is that we think there is an alternative to the general practice firms," says Michael Blanchard, the firm's first-ever executive director.

Sterne Kessler has also kept its focus on prosecution. "We've stayed true to what we do best," says Goldstein. The problem with Lyon & Lyon, he adds, was that they "focused too much on litigation as the core business, then sat there and said, 'We have work, we'll always have work.'"

With 50 lawyers and 30 technical experts, Sterne Kessler also does strategy and opinion work, and has served as co-counsel to firms such as Williams & Connolly in patent litigation.

Conventional wisdom is that firms can't make much money doing patent prosecution, but name partner Marvin Spivak of Alexandria's Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt says his firm's profit margin for prosecution rivals that for litigation.

Oblon consistently leads the nation in number of patent applications filed and issued. When the firm handles an application, it's almost like an assembly line, with different specialists working on different pieces. Oblon also employs a huge staff -- 345 administrators and secretaries for 90 lawyers and 15 technical experts.

In 2002, says Spivak, the firm had "the best year ever," filing more than 5,000 applications at the PTO. In part, that's because competition has actually lessened, he says, as "smaller patent firms have disappeared or merged into larger firms, and the large firms are not willing to commit to the infrastructure necessary to do a large volume of applications. We've had more and more clients coming to us."

When Spivak looks at the fate of Skjerven and Lyon & Lyon, as well as Brobeck, he notes that all were "involved in a lot of startups, venture capital dot-coms, and a large number of them folded." He adds, "You have to look very carefully at who you are taking on as clients."

FRIENDS AND RIVALS

Another issue for Skjerven, Lyon, and Brobeck was the inability to find a merger partner once problems mounted. Since 1996, merger has been an increasingly common option, with 38 IP firms picked up by general practice firms, says Hildebrandt's Smith. Notable acquisitions include the District's Cushman, Darby & Cushman, which merged with then-Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, and Houston's Arnold, White & Durkee, acquired by Howrey & Simon.

Both Oblon and Burns Doane report turning aside numerous overtures from larger firms looking to merge.

"We didn't see anything in it for us," says Spivak. "We'd be subject to their management and control, and there were potential conflict problems."

Still, Oblon has no intention of ceding litigation to the general practice firms. In ads, the firm highlights its role in the landmark Festo case, in which name partner Arthur Neustadt argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of the Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co. Currently, about half of Oblon's work is litigation work, Spivak says.

Also continuing to emphasize litigation is the District's Sughrue Mion, which typically files the second-highest number of patent applications each year. Partner Neil Siegel recently won a victory in an infringement case for the Nidek Co., and the firm represents Daiichi Pure Chemicals in several patent cases.

Managing partner Cindy Weber says the 100-lawyer firm has competed effectively for work by stressing that "you need the underlying substantial expertise to litigate these cases the way they should be litigated."

Hildebrandt's Smith is skeptical about whether technical prowess will sustain a litigation practice in the long run. "Clients see more of a distinction between litigation and prosecution," she says. "IP boutiques tend to view general practice firms as not equivalent, not of the same [technical] quality. Some boutiques still have their heads in the sand on this. Clients want real litigation experience."

THE BIG PICTURE

The boutique best known for litigation expertise -- if you can call a firm with 325 lawyers a boutique -- is Washington, D.C.-based Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, both Smith and Zeughauser agree.

One of its marquee names is Donald Dunner, who helped create the framework for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Another name partner, Ford Farabow Jr., serves as lead counsel for GlaxoSmithKline in a patent infringement case. And the firm is opening its eighth office, in Taiwan.

Managing partner Christopher Foley admits Finnegan took a hit when dot-com work dried up, but says its client base was sufficiently balanced that there was other work to do. About 55 percent to 60 percent of the firm's work is litigation, says Foley, with the rest in prosecution and client counseling. When the firm prosecutes patents, he adds, it doesn't try to match prices with lower-cost competitors.

"Sophisticated clients understand that the time to spend money is upfront, not down the road when you're in litigation," says Foley.

When Foley looks at the demise of Lyon & Lyon and Skjerven, one problem he sees is a lack of cohesiveness. "When one partner in a particular group left, others followed."

At Finnegan, he notes, only three partners in its 37-year history have jumped to rival firms. Burns Doane; Oblon; and Sughrue have also lost very few partners. That kind of bond, which has little to do with intellectual property or any other practice area, may ultimately be the reason that IP boutiques in the Washington area thrive.
LITPROS
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 10:14 AM   #4
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.)
Moderator
 
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Pop goes the chupacabra
Posts: 18,527
Re: Re: I want my K

Quote:
Originally posted by coup_d'skek
If you ask leagl all nice and purty like, she just might add a counter. I wouldn't ask burger, given that he stole your last k, he'd diss you for kicks.
Nah, I'm done dissing frenchie for the fiasKos. :love: Although really, given em's history, it should be fiasCos.

BTW, should we start calling em "freedomie"?
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 10:39 AM   #5
On n'a qu'une vie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Anyone believe this?

From the LT article I posted above

<<"Sophisticated clients understand that the time to spend money is upfront, not down the road when you're in litigation," says Foley. >>

Does anyone really believe this statement? Or believe that clients believe this statement, sophisticated or otherwise?
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 10:52 AM   #6
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.)
Moderator
 
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Pop goes the chupacabra
Posts: 18,527
Re: Anyone believe this?

Quote:
Originally posted by On n'a qu'une vie
From the LT article I posted above

<<"Sophisticated clients understand that the time to spend money is upfront, not down the road when you're in litigation," says Foley. >>

Does anyone really believe this statement? Or believe that clients believe this statement, sophisticated or otherwise?
Clients never believed they should spend money on litigation, either to head it off or to fight it. It's always "why us?" I'm sure there's a sophisticated client out there who realizes this, perhaps particularly in the patent area (an area I'm not familiar with, but one that seems particularly ripe for litigation).

I handled a case involving what was basically a contract dispute (although with lots of regulatory bullshit woven in). Anyway, the parties clearly had both tried to snooker the other on the language, and had different views of what several key terms meant (I suppose that describes nearly all contract litigation). They eventually reached settlement, where they would rewrite the contract. Of course, the new contract was even more covoluted, and while putting it together I was certain we'd be back in two years relitigating the new contract . . . amazing. The parties should have just walked away from each other, and paid some money.
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 11:31 AM   #7
On n'a qu'une vie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
re: anyone believe this

Every firm and lawyer I've ever seen who pushed preventative law/risk mitigation or regulatory compliance programs in an area that did not have an active enforcement climate, was doing so because their litigation practice had started drying up.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 02:13 PM   #8
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.)
Moderator
 
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Pop goes the chupacabra
Posts: 18,527
Re: re: anyone believe this

Quote:
Originally posted by On n'a qu'une vie
Every firm and lawyer I've ever seen who pushed preventative law/risk mitigation or regulatory compliance programs in an area that did not have an active enforcement climate, was doing so because their litigation practice had started drying up.
Doesn't that only compound the problem (the problem being sufficient business) in the long run?
Mmmm, Burger (C.J.) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 06:32 PM   #9
former gov't
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
This may be a late reply, but I'm trying to figure out the bells and whistles on this new site.

Re: Hecht's building - I heard that Ropes & Gray was moving there.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 08:11 PM   #10
On n'a qu'une vie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
anyone believe this

Burger said <<Doesn't that only compound the problem (the problem being sufficient business) in the long run?>> (the quote thingie didn't work)

Three points about that:

1. If you look at it strictly as a logical proposition, you are right.

2. if you assume that the legal service pie is not limited but expandable (meaning any individual lawyer or firm can expand their share relative to other lawyers and firms), then the answer is no. Regardless of how many problems you help clients avoid through selling compliance products, there will be other clients who were not so successful and need litigation services.

3. Hope springs eternal in the heart of every GP.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2003, 09:13 PM   #11
coup_d'skek
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: anyone believe this

Mmmm, Burger (C.J.)

Quote:
Doesn't that only compound the problem (the problem being sufficient business) in the long run?
There's an endless supply of knuckleheads fucking shit up.

But regardless, isn't the bigger problem here is that that a compliance practice doesn't generate big fees. Isn't the money in acting as counsel on matters where there's a lot of money at stake.
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-30-2003, 04:24 PM   #12
Working Man
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Litigation vs. Prosecution

The trend I've noticed among general practice firms with IP practices is that clients will not use the firm that prosecutes their trademark, copyright and patent applications for litigation involving the same types of disputes. There are a number of reasons for this, both ethical and otherwise.

In terms of compliance, I've noticed in my own practice that clients do not want to spend money upfront on compliance -- even so far as making sure all of their employees have signed non-competition agreements/invention assignment agreements. Clients simply don't see the potential problems down the road that will -- not may, but will -- result from failing to do so. If you push the issue, even though you think you're acting in your clients' best insterests, they will think you're trying to generate fees (which is true, but that isn't your main reason).
  Reply With Quote
Old 03-30-2003, 11:15 PM   #13
Say_hello_for_me
Theo rests his case
 
Say_hello_for_me's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: who's askin?
Posts: 1,632
Re: Anyone believe this?

Quote:
Originally posted by On n'a qu'une vie
From the LT article I posted above

<<"Sophisticated clients understand that the time to spend money is upfront, not down the road when you're in litigation," says Foley. >>

Does anyone really believe this statement? Or believe that clients believe this statement, sophisticated or otherwise?
Well, I'm not sure I'm talking your language, but tell me if this fits. IBM files the most patent applications in the U.S. every year. The most by miles that is. They also send boxes of "information disclosures" to the patent office to make public the record of what their people have submitted as inventions (though they won't prosecute the applications). The invention disclosure submissions could be considered clearly defensive measures taken against potential litigation. The applications might be more of an offensive weapon, though sometimes the offense that might be taken is merely the best defense.

There is a famous story from Sun or one of the other Ca. tech companies about having a box of patents sent to them by IBM lawyers with a potential-infringement letter. Sun's patent lawyers went over the patents and determined that each and every one was not infringed by any Sun product. They had a meeting with IBM's people and explained, in detail, how they avoided infringement.

Please understand that this is not meant to be libelous, and only paraphrases what I am certain that I read in an article within the last 18 months, but supposedly IBM's lawyers ended the meeting by saying something like "well, that is the first 25 patents, should we get started on the next 50,000 that are still in effect?"

I'm not sure, but I think the story ended with Sun paying a large sum for a global license.

It probably can't be called defensive without additional facts, but it certainly is intimidating to anyone that would actually try and initiate anything against IBM.

Hello
__________________
Man, back in the day, you used to love getting flushed, you'd be all like 'Flush me J! Flush me!' And I'd be like 'Nawww'

Say_hello_for_me is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2003, 09:52 AM   #14
paigowprincess
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Bop and All About Jane

Does anyone know when "Bop" is going to open (I do not think it has). Has anyone been to All about Jane? I am looking for nice boutiques that sell Juicy, Laundry, Seven, Steven Pearse, Diane Von Furstenburg, Betsey Johnson, etc etc. Thanks!
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2003, 12:05 PM   #15
Self Employed Fluffer
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Bop and All About Jane

Quote:
Originally posted by paigowprincess
Does anyone know when "Bop" is going to open (I do not think it has). Has anyone been to All about Jane? I am looking for nice boutiques that sell Juicy, Laundry, Seven, Steven Pearse, Diane Von Furstenburg, Betsey Johnson, etc etc. Thanks!
Paigow, given the rather precarious state of your finances, not to mention your recent brush with eviction due to non-payment of rent, shouldn't you have other concerns on your mind?

Just wondering.

JRUSS.
  Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.0.1

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:13 PM.