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Name and title: Jim Etheridge, general counsel and vice president of strategic relations Age: 45 The company: EFI Inc., until recently known as Electronics for Imaging, is a major provider of commercial print management technologies and products. EFI software and document-management tools, including its Fiery print server (with an output of up to 2,000 pages per minute), cover the entire printing process from creation to the page. Last year, EFI made a strategic shift from being an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) company to being a software entity concentrating on automating print processes and streamlining workflow. As a result of a spate of acquisitions, including PrintCaf�, T/R System and Best GmbH, EFI’s customers now include various dealers, distributors and thousands of end-users. Its new name, logo and brands reflect EFI’s changing focus. Founded in 1989 in Foster City, Calif., the Nasdaq-listed firm now has 25 offices worldwide. It has 1,400 employees and, in 2003, reported revenues of $380 million. Department builder: Etheridge “pretty much” built EFI’s legal apparatus from scratch. One of his first acts was to change the department’s name to strategic relations because “what I wanted to do was find solutions.” He assembled a team of nine business-savvy lawyers with divergent backgrounds, relying upon a specific profile when hiring. “I looked for third- to fifth-year lawyers who felt they were getting incredibly pigeonholed inside of a big law firm,” he said. EFI attorneys, whom Etheridge calls “general counsel in training,” are assigned to a specific business unit rather than concentrating on a particular area of law. They work with the unit’s sales, marketing, licensing and engineering personnel. Other than litigation, 80% of the legal load is handled in-house, reflecting Etheridge’s conviction that “you need someone close to the business in order to drive the legal result to meet the goal.” Washington-based Howrey Simon Arnold & White gets the call for patent litigation matters, and EFI will go outside for specific needs, including Securities and Exchange Commission compliance, bankruptcy and issues pertaining to the European Union, China or India. Etheridge pointed out that he hires the lawyer, not the firm. He prefers to use very small teams of attorneys in the belief that they are flexible, mobile and more reactive to outside legal costs. The firm had six stalled patent applications when Etheridge first assumed his roles at EFI. The fledgling GC flew to Washington to meet with an examiner from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, got the six patents issued and began to build an intellectual property portfolio. His company now holds 250 patents, with another 250 pending. In the past 18 months, Etheridge has participated in five acquisitions and the spinoffs of two small companies, and he has led the legal work in a $240 million bond issue. Lots of litigation: EFI takes an aggressive approach toward patent litigation and has been involved in a multitude of such cases, both as plaintiff and defendant. “People see litigation as a failure in business negotiations. I think it’s simply another tool,” said Etheridge. “Some companies pay licensing fees. We tend to litigate.” He feels that this stance has curtailed many groundless and frivolous infringement claims. EFI possesses a pioneering patent on a color-correction process, which over the years has been widely licensed. As the patent neared the end of its lifetime, EFI brought a simultaneous infringement action against 217 companies prior to relicensing. Most have settled, with only a few holdouts, in the matter held before an Eastern District of Texas court. Over several years, Jan R. Coyle, a Nevada resident, demanded that EFI buy technology allegedly invented by his company, Kolbet Labs. On Dec. 11, 2001, EFI brought a declaratory judgment in the Northern District of California, asking the court to declare that EFI had not breached any nondisclosure agreement, infringed any patent or misappropriated any trade secret belonging to Coyle or Kolbet Labs. That action was ultimately dismissed on Feb. 17, 2004, and is on appeal; a second declaratory action is pending in the same court. Coyle’s company J&L Electronics sued EFI in Nevada federal court on Feb. 26, 2002, alleging patent infringement and other claims; the court’s dismissal of the complaint for lack of jurisdiction over EFI was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Feb. 9, 2004. On May 3, 2004, J&L Electronics brought another action in Arizona federal court with similar allegations. That action is still pending. It is EFI’s position in all these cases that Coyle’s claims are without merit. Etheridge successfully used a less aggressive approach to achieve results in a recent software-piracy incident. Piracy is a problem in China, where laws are on the books but enforcement is lax. Etheridge was urged to sue a man who was found to be selling discounted EFI products, but the GC took a different tack. He investigated the suspect and decided on a face-to-face meeting in China. Within hours, a deal was struck and now the perpetrator works for EFI as a contractor, “localizing and improving our software.” Route to the top: Armed with an engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Etheridge hooked up in 1981 with Amoco Oil’s drilling and operations group. Responsible for 250 wells and “lots of legal issues,” he worked with everyone from roughnecks on the drilling floor to corporate executives in the boardroom. Seven years later, law school beckoned (the University of Southern California, with degrees in law and international relations). While matriculating, and upon his graduation in 1991, he worked at Irvine, Calif.’s Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear, where he “found a good balance that’s now hard to find in a law firm.” After five years, he switched to Price Gess Ubell of Irvine, a since-disbanded intellectual property boutique “at the other end of the spectrum.” Here he worked with small-revenue clients, whose very survival depended on their IP. He has drawn upon both contrasting law firm experiences in his present work. “Out of the blue,” a headhunter alerted him to EFI, which was in need of IP help. In October 1995, he accepted its offer as a corporate associate. He became general counsel “three or four years ago.” Personal: Etheridge, a Spanish-born history and genealogy buff, is proud of being his family’s first college graduate. Last book and movie: April 1865: The Month That Saved America, by Jay Winik, and The Letter.

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