Monday, March 20, 2017

IP Conflicts: Always challenging for the intellectual

Following the news about Ropes & Gray, BNA conducted an interview with Greg Sueoka, former Fenwick & West managing partner: "Prominent IP Lawyer on 100 Lawyers and Staff Leaving Ropes & Gray" --
  • "One of the big stories last week was Ropes & Gray’s announcement that it would spin off its patent prosecution practice, resulting in 100 lawyers and staff departing the large Boston-based law firm to form a new entity."
  • "On Friday, Big Law Business caught up with Greg Sueoka, the former managing partner of Fenwick & West, who has maintained a patent prosecution practice of his own and now operates the boutique, Patent Law Works, which he formed after leaving Fenwick in 2010."
  • "Sueoka: I loved the people at Fenwick, but one reason I left was because of conflicts of interest. As a patent prosecutor, I’ll deal with a decent number of start ups. Maybe their initial spend might be in the tens of thousands of dollars. But litigators and corporate folks say, ‘We don’t want that conflict.’  Patent litigation is a huge law firm revenue ticket item. When it comes to a conflict between my little tens of thousands, which might grow to half a million or more later, I was getting conflicted out of a lot of work."
  • "Sueoka: If you bring in, say, ten startups a year, in two years, five of those companies will be gone because they’re startups. Four years later, you only have three clients left, but those three clients will be good companies, generating a lot of revenue for you.  But that still creates conflicts when you have large numbers of companies coming in. Technology moves in waves. Everybody is trying to do the same thing at the same time, whether it’s Snapchat and messaging, Facebook — they all kind of come together at the same time and you don’t know who’s going to be the next Facebook or LinkedIn versus who are going to be the losers. The amount of conflicts we’re going to have here is relatively easy to manage compared to me competing with 1,000 other lawyers to bring a client into a big firm."

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