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Top Patent Lawyers Leave Google, IntelTop patent attorneys at Google and Intel have left their companies in recent months. Michelle Lee, deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google, stepped down in late May. David Simon, associate general counsel for IP policy at Intel, has also resigned. Recruiters and patent experts say in-house patent expertise is at a premium right now.
2012-07-24 12:00:00 AM
Top patent attorneys at both Google Inc. and Intel Corp. have left their companies in recent months.
Michelle Lee, deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google, stepped down in late May.
David Simon, associate general counsel for IP policy at Intel, has also resigned his position.
Simon had been chief patent counsel overseeing Intel's patent litigation until the first of the year, when he was moved to a policy and lobbying position as part of a management reorganization.
Lee arrived at Google in 2003, before its IPO, after spending seven years at Fenwick & West advising high-tech companies on IP and patent matters.
Under Lee, Google's patent department has grown from a handful of people to a team of about 70 as its portfolio of patents went from a few to thousands. Lee has been credited with a key role in strategic patent acquisitions, such as Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility and its patent assets in August.
"I was privileged to have spent nine amazing years at Google, during a time of tremendous growth for the company," Lee said Thursday, "and to have led the company on some of the most interesting patent issues of our time, with an incredible team." She declined to detail her career plans.
Lee's role changed in January when Google hired Allen Lo, a former associate counsel at Juniper Networks Inc., as deputy general counsel in charge of patent litigation and patent acquisitions. Lee was named Google's head of patents and patent strategy.
Lee had also been Google's public voice on patent reform, whether it was working with government agencies or filing amicus curiae briefs. Last year, Lee was named to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Public Advisory Committee.
"Michelle is a talented lawyer and her expertise on patents will be missed," Google spokesman Jim Prosser said. "We wish her good fortune in her new endeavor."
Lee graduated from Stanford Law School and also has a graduate degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Simon had been at Intel since 1997, joining as a senior counsel. Before that, he was an IP partner at Loeb & Loeb for two years. He joined Spensley Horn Jubas & Lubitz in Los Angeles in 1982 after graduating from Georgetown University Law Center. Simon declined to comment and officials at Intel did not respond to requests for comment.
Although neither Lee nor Simon would disclose their career plans, recruiters and patent experts suggest they'll have plenty of options because in-house patent expertise is at a premium.
"These are people who are mature in their careers, and they've done what they're going to do at their companies," said Steve John, an in-house recruiter at Major, Lindsey & Africa. "If they're going to do anything else, now is the time to do it. Anything is possible today because the waters are churning."
Companies are increasingly focused on patent issues, whether they're trying to find ways to monetize their patent portfolios or dealing with costly patent litigation. Meanwhile, law firms are trying to recruit patent attorneys as well.
"People are looking for IP specialists who can go beyond legal and understand the business impact that IP has," said Mallun Yen, an executive vice president at patent aggregator RPX Corp., who has worked with Lee on patent issues over the years. "And I think Michelle is one of those individuals who can bridge between IP as a legal issue and as it relates to business, and that puts her in particularly high demand."