Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The army of law firms once used by Microsoft Corp. is now just a platoon. The Redmond, Wash.-based company is evaluating the more than 100 firms it turns to for legal help. So far, 20 are on its “preferred provider” list. That’s good news for the chosen 20-which in the IP litigation realm includes Arnold & Porter, Covington & Burling, Fish & Richardson, Klarquist Sparkman, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, and Woodcock Washburn. But any sigh of relief that the listed firms let out was probably cut short when they heard the catch: Firms would have to renegotiate their billing structure, as well as provide detailed data on diversity and staffing, according to new uniform guidelines established by Microsoft. The company also imposed a rate freeze until the program is finalized sometime toward the end of the year. Details of the arrangements are confidential, said Thomas Burt, Microsoft’s head of litigation. “We needed to find ways to control the cost of litigation and at the same time consolidate our work with firms who did the best work for us,” Burt said. He declined to give specifics, but said costs have been increasing across all litigation areas, particularly in the patent and antitrust arenas. Microsoft is currently involved in about 35 active patent cases. Kevin Harrang, the Microsoft deputy general counsel in charge of the program, describes the company’s recent spending on legal matters as the equivalent of a “wartime budget.” A work in progress Microsoft began making its list last spring, and it’s still a work in progress. Although only preferred providers will get work from Microsoft, local counsel will still be chosen on a case-by-case basis, Burt said. The list is divided into two tiers, one handling the larger volume of work and the other handling regional matters. The selection process was “largely internal,” said John Gartman, a partner at preferred provider Fish & Richardson. “We were not privy to it.” Microsoft hasn’t publicly released the list—Harrang said it plans to at the end of the 18-month process—but the six firms listed above have confirmed that they are on it. These same firms were named by Microsoft as its primary IP litigation counsel in a survey IP Law & Business conducted last year. With the exception of Portland, Ore., IP boutique Klarquist Sparkman and Covington & Burling, none of the firms had appeared in the IPLB survey the previous four years. All six are handling big IP cases for Microsoft.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.