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As an undergraduate, Robert Haslam had his eye on NASA’s space program. “I went to MIT with the idea I’d help put a man on the moon,” Haslam said. “They did it without me, so I thought I’d go onto something else.” His engineering degree eventually came in handy, though. Judges and clients say the Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe partner is very skillful in translating his technical knowledge to judges and juries. “He is a patent litigator that has all of the tools,” said Alexander Rogers, senior legal counsel at Qualcomm Inc. “He has a technical background and the ability to understand complex technology in depth. And he has a very up-to-date, up-to-the-minute understanding of the law.” “He explains things very well,” said a local judge. “In front of a jury he comes across as an honest, straightforward individual. He knows his stuff.” Haslam, 57, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968 and then spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. He had planned to continue his education at MIT but instead went to Hastings College of the Law. He subsequently joined Heller Ehrman, where he’s spent the past 27 years. Initially a commercial litigator, Haslam got his first patent case in 1986 when client Atmel Corp. was sued for infringement. He found patent law fit well with his engineering background, and, ever since, he has focused on patent and trade secret litigation in Heller’s Palo Alto office. His roster of clients includes Qualcomm, RSA Data Security Inc., Texas Instruments Inc., Altera Corp. and Chinese manufacturer Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Last year Haslam won a $36.5 million jury verdict for Atmel in its infringement suit against Silicon Storage Technology Inc., one of the largest patent awards in California. Julie Mar-Spinola, Atmel’s chief litigation and IP counsel, said Haslam plays well to a jury. Mar-Spinola, who worked with Haslam for nine years at Heller before moving in house, also praised his manner with colleagues. “He’s a brilliant man, not just in terms of intelligence,” she said. “He handles people in a fair and reasonable way.”

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