Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Goodwin Procter Survives Disqualification in Patent Case

New England In-House writes: "Goodwin Procter not disqualified from patent case" --
  • "A law firm representing the plaintiffs in a patent infringement suit was not subject to disqualification based on the fact that two of its partners, while associated with a different firm in 2004, had a one-day meeting with the defendant on a related matter, a U.S. District Court judge in Boston has ruled."
  • "The defendant argued that the plaintiffs’ Boston firm, Goodwin Procter, should be disqualified because the two attorneys had received information in that meeting that was directly relevant to whether its own technology, a pregnancy test, infringed on the plaintiffs’ patent."
  • "But Judge Douglas P. Woodlock disagreed, finding that the two lawyers never obtained “substantial material information” relating to the patent at issue and thus the plaintiffs’ firm fell within the “safe harbor” provision of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct."
Goodwin argued this was a prudent decision, given the realities of lateral movement across the industry:
  • "'At any given time, many lawyers are looking to move,' [Henry C. Dinger, the partner who argued the motion] said. 'It’s in the interest of the profession and, in the long run, in the interests of clients and the public, that we not unnecessarily create ‘Typhoid Marys’ who will have difficulty finding a new place to land because they carry so much baggage. And firms need the ability to use screens to manage those risks rather than saying, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t take you on.'"

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