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Name and title: R.L. Smith McKeithen, senior vice president, secretary and general counsel Age: 62 Dominant player: Cadence Design Systems Corp. creates software for companies that design computer chips. A dominant player in the so-called electronic design automation industry, Cadence’s software and engineering services help its customers design semiconductors, circuitry for consumer electronics, telecommunications equipment and computer systems. Based in San Jose, Calif., the 17-year-old, publicly traded company employs 5,000 in 63 locations worldwide. The company’s 2004 revenue was $1.2 billion. Cadence engineers attempt to solve the problems of “infinitesimally small” microprocessors, such as distortion created by the close proximity of the millions of lines that carry electronic signals on one piece of silicon, McKeithen said. Just like ‘robbing a bank’: Cadence is at the forefront of a growing trend in litigation over intellectual property theft. Rather than seek only damages and injunctions in civil suits, Cadence also has sought criminal prosecution of alleged IP theft. “In the appropriate circumstance, I think it is mandatory to bring government forces to bear, especially if there is imminent threat of misappropriation,” McKeithen said. “It’s just as much theft as robbing a bank.” One notable example was the criminal case against Avanti Corp. Six former Cadence employees, some of whom founded Avanti, were found guilty in 2001 of trade secret theft under California law for stealing Cadence’s computer code. Avanti paid Cadence nearly $200 million in restitution. Cadence also sought damages in a copyright suit, which Avanti settled for $265 million in 2002. Determining whether IP theft warrants bringing in the government involves several factors, including time, McKeithen said. If the misuse has stopped, then damages would be all a company would seek because there is no exigency. However, with ongoing misuse or theft, “if you waited until you went the civil route, evidence would be destroyed or the code would be transmitted and you can never get it back. Once that leaves your control, then you have your asset in someone else’s hands and it’s very tough to un-ring that bell.” Deciding whether to bring in the government also means identifying where Cadence’s interests lie, he said. “Are they best served by having a public fight or a private discussion?” he said. “I take no pleasure in public fights, but if I have to go public I will.” Bringing in the government has its disadvantages. “As general counsel you have to weigh what they can do for you and what they can’t do,” he said. “If you bring a criminal action they obviously represent the people. They can’t be a shill for a company. The FBI does not want to be used as a tool in some run-of-the-mill commercial dispute.” Criminal prosecution of IP theft will grow, he said. “IP will be the source of wealth and competitive advantage, not just in the U.S. but in countries around the world. As Willie Sutton said, he robs banks because that’s where the money is.” Legal team and outside counsel: McKeithen reports to Cadence President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Fister. He directs a group of about 30 staffers-roughly half of whom are lawyers-in London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, San Jose and Portland, Ore. As country specialists, lawyers in foreign locations are their own regional general counsel, bringing in others as needed, he said. Staffers in San Jose handle corporate alliances, sales, mergers and acquisitions, finance, intellectual property, employment and litigation work. As for outside counsel, Cadence uses several firms for a variety of corporate and transaction work, among them Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher of Los Angeles and Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. Among its patent counsel are McDermott, Will & Emery and Bingham McCutchen. For litigation, the company has used Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Keker & Van Nest of San Francisco. “I will not hire an attorney unless I can learn from him or her. They have to know more than I do,” McKeithen said. Route to the top: Just three years after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1971, McKeithen was hired away from Shearman & Sterling in New York to become a counsel on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry staff investigating former President Nixon. He was among the 47 lawyers on the team, including Hillary Clinton, now the junior U.S. senator from New York, and William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts. McKeithen’s job entailed looking into Nixon’s taxes. The team was sworn to secrecy and party neutrality in the investigation. After Nixon resigned, McKeithen joined the San Francisco firm now known as Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin. He went in-house in 1983 and has since been general counsel at Activision Inc., a video game company; Cooper Cos., a medical device holding company; Silicon Graphics Inc.; and Strategic Mapping Inc. He joined Cadence in 1996. Personal: Born in North Carolina, McKeithen received a bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson College in 1965. He and his wife, Kathleen Danchuk, have two children: Emma, 24, and Wesley, 23. For fun, McKeithen reads Shakespeare and Homer and travels. McKeithen’s mother, Lee McKeithen, 92, was the first woman to graduate from Duke Law School in 1935. Following a hiatus from her practice, she returned after taking the Connecticut bar exam at age 59. “She told me to go back to law school when I thought it was too tough,” he said. McKeithen served for six years in the Army and Army Reserves, and spent a year in Korea during the Vietnam War. He attended law school during his reserve service. “I wore jump boots and a green beret on the Upper West Side [of New York] in the 1970s,” he said. Last book and movie: Ulysses, by James Joyce, and Lost in Translation. -Emily Heller

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