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Amid weak demand for both corporate and intellectual property legal work, Minneapolis-based Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi formed a new group with lawyers from both disciplines to help clients make money from their patent portfolios. The firm’s strategic IP monetization group, which was announced on Wednedsday after quietly ramping up for about a month, is a brainchild of the business group, said John Houston, who chairs the business department and leads the strategic IP monetization group. “It’s technically not unique, but it is a rare combination of intellectual property lawyers and deal lawyers,” Houston said. The combined team will help clients sell, license or enter into transactions with their intellectual property, he said. The idea is to help companies squeeze more value from their patents without using litigation, he said. “Intellectual property litigation is extremely expensive,” he said. “We have approaches that may be alternatives.” The other Minneapolis partners in the group include business lawyers Ryan Miest and Kevin Spreng. Three lawyers specialize in both intellectual property litigation and licensing, including Jake Holdreith, Christopher Larus and Ronald Schutz. Larus and Schutz are also business litigators. Although the team is in Minneapolis, the practice is national, according to Houston. The firm may add attorneys from its other offices, which include Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and Naples, Fla., as it grows and builds, Houston said. The firm’s staff scientists and financial consultants will also support the group, Houston said. The idea sprang from the business lawyers’ observations that many clients don’t know how to fully monetize their intellectual property, Houston said. “We see it as a way to help companies manage a growing and very significant asset,” Houston said.

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