Left to right: Dean Niro, Art Gasey, Robert Vitale and Paul Vickrey
Left to right: Dean Niro, Art Gasey, Robert Vitale and Paul Vickrey ()

The Chicago-based intellectual property boutique Niro Law, a firm that became known for filing often-exasperating lawsuits on behalf of patent trolls, is about to permanently shut its doors. The move comes five months after the death of its founder, Raymond Niro Sr.

Niro, a well-known figure in the world of IP litigation who was once called the original “patent troll,” died in August at age 73 while vacationing in Italy.

A group of seven lawyers from Niro Law have announced that they are starting a new firm in Chicago called Vitale, Vickrey, Niro & Gasey, which will focus on general commercial litigation, patent litigation, patent prosecution and other matters that come before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“We wanted a new start,” Paul Vickrey, a founding partner of the new firm, told Crain’s Chicago Business, which first reported the news on Jan. 18.

The creation of the new firm marks the end of Niro Law and is an attempt by the remaining lawyers to branch out from the type of work that became the hallmark of Niro’s career.

Niro and his firm, once called Niro, Haller & Niro before disbanding in early 2016 and reconstituting as Niro Law, built a reputation for bringing licensing disputes on behalf of nonpracticing entities, or businesses that own patents but don’t make products based on them.

Representing NPEs as patent plaintiffs proved lucrative for many years. In 2006, for example, Niro tried 6 percent of all the patent cases that went to a verdict, and secured damages of more than $100 million, according to the IP Watchdog blog. But the NPE work also prompted criticism, including the moniker “patent troll” that was slapped on Niro and his client TechSearch in the early 2000s, after they sued Intel Corp.

Recent years presented Niro with a tougher legal landscape when it came to representing NPEs and other patent owners in court. Legislative changes and U.S. Supreme Court rulings opened the door to more administrative proceedings at the patent office and made it easier for a winning party in patent litigation to collect attorney fees from an opponent.

In June 2015, Niro suggested in a Crain’s Chicago Business interview that he was rethinking his focus on NPE cases. At the time, he said changes in patent law had undermined the business model for such firms as his that often represented individual inventors. By the time of Niro’s death, his firm, which once counted 30 attorneys in its ranks, had only 13 lawyers.Seven of those who stayed with Niro Law will now make up the new firm, while the others are reportedly pursuing other opportunities. The roster at the new firm includes three associates, along with founding partners Vickrey, Robert Vitale, Arthur Gasey and Dean Niro, Ray Niro’s son.

“I am pleased and proud to be part of this group,” Dean Niro said in a statement about the launch. “This firm has significant trial experience in high stakes litigation. The firm also has substantial experience in patent prosecution and post issuance proceedings.”

Contact Scott Flaherty at sflaherty@alm.com. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.

The Chicago-based intellectual property boutique Niro Law, a firm that became known for filing often-exasperating lawsuits on behalf of patent trolls, is about to permanently shut its doors. The move comes five months after the death of its founder, Raymond Niro Sr.

Niro, a well-known figure in the world of IP litigation who was once called the original “patent troll,” died in August at age 73 while vacationing in Italy.

A group of seven lawyers from Niro Law have announced that they are starting a new firm in Chicago called Vitale, Vickrey, Niro & Gasey, which will focus on general commercial litigation, patent litigation, patent prosecution and other matters that come before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“We wanted a new start,” Paul Vickrey, a founding partner of the new firm, told Crain’s Chicago Business, which first reported the news on Jan. 18.

The creation of the new firm marks the end of Niro Law and is an attempt by the remaining lawyers to branch out from the type of work that became the hallmark of Niro’s career.

Niro and his firm, once called Niro, Haller & Niro before disbanding in early 2016 and reconstituting as Niro Law, built a reputation for bringing licensing disputes on behalf of nonpracticing entities, or businesses that own patents but don’t make products based on them.

Representing NPEs as patent plaintiffs proved lucrative for many years. In 2006, for example, Niro tried 6 percent of all the patent cases that went to a verdict, and secured damages of more than $100 million, according to the IP Watchdog blog. But the NPE work also prompted criticism, including the moniker “patent troll” that was slapped on Niro and his client TechSearch in the early 2000s, after they sued Intel Corp.

Recent years presented Niro with a tougher legal landscape when it came to representing NPEs and other patent owners in court. Legislative changes and U.S. Supreme Court rulings opened the door to more administrative proceedings at the patent office and made it easier for a winning party in patent litigation to collect attorney fees from an opponent.

In June 2015, Niro suggested in a Crain’s Chicago Business interview that he was rethinking his focus on NPE cases. At the time, he said changes in patent law had undermined the business model for such firms as his that often represented individual inventors. By the time of Niro’s death, his firm, which once counted 30 attorneys in its ranks, had only 13 lawyers.Seven of those who stayed with Niro Law will now make up the new firm, while the others are reportedly pursuing other opportunities. The roster at the new firm includes three associates, along with founding partners Vickrey, Robert Vitale, Arthur Gasey and Dean Niro, Ray Niro’s son.

“I am pleased and proud to be part of this group,” Dean Niro said in a statement about the launch. “This firm has significant trial experience in high stakes litigation. The firm also has substantial experience in patent prosecution and post issuance proceedings.”

Contact Scott Flaherty at sflaherty@alm.com. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.