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Weil, Gotshal & Manges is making a move to be more than a go-to firm for patent litigation in Silicon Valley. Six lawyers from the firm’s New York headquarters are transferring to its Redwood Shores office to launch a commercial litigation practice. Kenneth Steinthal, Weil, Gotshal’s second most senior litigator, is heading up the group. His clients include Bertelsmann AG, The Walt Disney Co., eBay Inc., Yahoo Inc. and MTV Networks. Steinthal said the firm has lost out on business it would otherwise get because it didn’t have a general business litigation practice on the West Coast. “We’ve had a great media and litigation practice in New York and have great clients in the Bay Area,” Steinthal said. But he added that the firm didn’t have the capacity locally to fulfill its needs. Matthew Powers, who until recently served as managing partner of the Redwood Shores office, said clients have asked the firm over the years to expand its local litigation capabilities. In addition to getting more business, Powers said having a general litigation practice would improve the firm’s recruiting efforts. “We’ve had good, solid people who wanted to come here, but they weren’t sure they wanted to do patent litigation,” Powers said. Powers joined the fledgling Silicon Valley office in 1993 when it had only a handful of attorneys. The office focused exclusively on patent litigation until 1999 when it added a corporate practice. The office now has about 40 patent litigators and 16 corporate lawyers. Weil, Gotshal has more than 400 litigators altogether. Steinthal has spent his entire career at Weil, Gotshal, joining the firm after graduating from Fordham University School of Law in 1978. He is co-head of the firm’s IP/media practice and specializes in trying cases in the music, motion picture and television industries. He is currently leading the defense of Bertelsmann in a series of copyright infringement suits brought by major record labels and music publishers. The plaintiffs, who are suing Bertelsmann because of its loans to Napster, areseeking $17 billion in damages. The cases have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel. Steinthal begins working at the Silicon Valley office today, with the rest of the group expected to join him shortly. The exact lineup has not been set, he said, but it will include one partner besides himself and four or five associates. He said he would be looking to hire laterals and anticipates having at least a dozen lawyers in the group within a few months. Weil, Gotshal’s Silicon Valley office happens to be next door to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, one of the leading business litigation firms in California. Firm leader John Quinn said it makes sense for Weil to build a commercial litigation presence in Silicon Valley. But he doesn’t believe it will change the competitive landscape. “The market is so diffuse no one has an appreciable market share,” Quinn said. “The entrance of one more firm won’t make a difference. I don’t think it will affect anyone competitively.”

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