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Fish & Richardson has snagged the biotechnology patent group in Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe’s San Diego office. Partner Stephanie Seidman leads the team, which includes nine lawyers and 13 technical professionals. Fred Hernandez and Dale Rieger, who were associates at Heller, are joining Fish & Richardson as partners. About half the group is joining Fish & Richardson on Monday, and others will move over the next several weeks. Seidman co-founded Heller’s San Diego office when she joined the firm in 1998. With the departure of her group, Heller’s 60-lawyer San Diego office has just eight biotech patent professionals, none of them attorneys. Seidman said Fish & Richardson offers a better fit for her practice, which focuses on emerging and early-stage companies. “Patent prosecutors and patent counselors have needs so different” from a general practice firm, Seidman said. IP firms “hire Ph.D.s out of labs and train them to be lawyers, which is so different than going to Harvard or Stanford” to recruit associates. David Geerdes, managing partner of Heller’s San Diego office, said the departure of the group would not have a significant impact on Heller. He noted that the firm’s lawyer count increased by more than 40 percent in the first six months of 2003. The new hires last year included four litigators from Fish & Richardson. Prior to joining Heller, Seidman worked at a few IP firms, including the now defunct Brown Martin Haller & McClain. “The trend is to go to general practice firms, and I followed that trend,” Seidman said. “For the long-term and my sanity, I think it’s a better fit” to be at an IP firm. Boston-based Fish & Richardson opened its office in San Diego in 1995. With the addition of Seidman’s group, the outpost will have 60 attorneys. John Gartman, managing partner of the San Diego office, said the addition of Seidman’s group would bolster the firm’s standing in the region. “We’re No. 1 in IP litigation in San Diego already,” Gartman said. “This now puts us there in biotechnology.” Biotechnology is one of the largest industries in San Diego, rivaling telecommunications. As in Silicon Valley, the biotech field has been affected by the economy, Gartman said, “but it’s still very rich.” Other Bay Area firms with outposts in San Diego include Cooley Godward, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, Morrison & Foerster and Pillsbury Winthrop.

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