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Q. Todd Dickinson, former head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is leaving Howrey Simon Arnold & White to become vice president and chief intellectual property counsel at General Electric Co. He will start working at the company’s Fairfield, Conn., headquarters around May 1. Dickinson, who joined Howrey three years ago, called the newly created position at GE one of the greatest jobs in intellectual property law. GE has “probably the greatest in-house law department ever,” Dickinson said. “It has probably the greatest breadth of IP of any company, stretching back to Thomas Edison.” GE’s businesses range from appliances and plastics to fiber optics, magnetic imaging, the NBC television network, and even production of the Mars Observer spacecraft. The company also recently acquired the bioscience company Amersham plc, and on Monday announced it was acquiring InVision Technologies Inc., manufacturer of explosives detection systems, for about $900 million. Dickinson said GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt is focused on expanding the company’s technology. He noted that the company has spent $100 million improving its laboratory in New York, opened research facilities in Shanghai and Bangalore, India, and is set to open another facility in Munich this summer. He said GE’s forthcoming acquisition of Universal Pictures from Vivendi Universal S.A. would also expand the copyright side of GE’s IP. Dickinson will report to Vice President and General Counsel Brackett Denniston and Vice President of Global Research Scott Donnelly. He will oversee an IP staff of about 80 lawyers, coordinate all the IP work of the company, and play a role in advocating IP policy. “A key competitive advantage for GE is our ability to develop leading technologies,” Denniston said in a release. “World-class leadership in protecting these technologies is critical. Todd’s strong background in both the public and private sectors brings to GE just this kind of exceptional leadership.” Dickinson has split his time between Howrey’s Washington, D.C., headquarters and its San Francisco outpost. He bought a house in the Bay Area about 18 months ago and said his one regret is leaving California. Howrey Managing Partner Robert Ruyak was unavailable Tuesday but he issued a statement congratulating Dickinson on his new appointment. “Todd has made important contributions to Howrey’s intellectual property practice group during his nearly three years with Howrey,” Ruyak said. “We look forward to our continued relationship with him.” Dickinson joined the PTO in 1998 as deputy commissioner and four months later stepped in as acting commissioner following the resignation of the agency’s chief, Bruce Lehman. Dickinson’s tenure coincided with a boom in activity at the agency as the number of patent applications increased by 70 percent and the number of trademark applications nearly doubled. He left his mark on the agency by restructuring the agency’s management team, expanding the number of patent and trademark attorneys, and emphasizing quality review for patent and trademark applications. Prior to joining the PTO, Dickinson served as counsel with Philadelphia-based Dechert Price & Rhoads for three years, served as chief counsel for IP and technology with Sun Company Inc., and as counsel for Chevron Corp.

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