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Intellectual property powerhouse Fish & Richardson is opening a Munich, Germany, office � the latest of several American law firms to invest in intellectual property expertise in Europe. Fish & Richardson plans to open its Munich office on Oct. 1 with five lawyers, including two partners from the German firm Bardehle Pagenberg Dost Altenburg Geissler, and increase it to a dozen attorneys by the end of 2008. The new office will enhance the firm’s premier brand in intellectual property, said firm President Peter Devlin. “It’s logical for us to want to expand that brand internationally,” Devlin said. “We decided the best place to start was Europe.” The new office will also help Fish serve its notable German clients, including optical product maker Carl Zeiss A.G., software company SAP A.G., electronics giant Siemens A.G. and the car maker Porsche. “We have several clients who have operations in Europe [who] have made it clear that if we were more local, that would be a very important factor to them in continuing to grow their business with us,” Devlin said. Other firms have preceded Fish into the European intellectual property arena. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, a Washington-based firm with a national intellectual property reach, has been in Brussels since 1993, currently with three lawyers. Washington-based Howrey, which counts intellectual property as one of its three main specialty areas, and the global firm Jones Day have intellectual property lawyers across Europe. More unified system Howrey, whose other two practice areas are antitrust and litigation, set up shop in Munich early this year and now has nine lawyers. It also has IP attorneys in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Brussels; London; and Paris. Inventions are international, said Willem Hoyng, an Amsterdam lawyer who serves as Howrey’s managing partner in Europe. “If you want to advise clients or help clients, especially clients who work on more than a national level, it is very important to have the capability to advise about the different jurisdictions and in which they operate,” Hoyng said. Although efforts to create a single European Patent Court or a community patent that would be enforceable across Europe have stalled, there seems to be a growing realization in Europe that intellectual property rights are critical to the region’s growth, said John Gagel, a principal in Fish’s Boston office. Many observers believe Europe will eventually have a more unified system, Gagel said. “We think IP rights in the European Union are already critically important [and] we think they’ll become more important in the future,” Gagel said. Jones Day now counts 10 intellectual property lawyers in Munich since launching the office in 2003, and it also has IP lawyers in Brussels; Frankfurt, Germany; London; Milan, Italy; and Paris, said John Normile, a New York partner who coordinates the firm’s European intellectual property practice. “We are still very much focused on IP in Munich,” Normile said. Jones Day expects to add at least one or two more partners, plus associates, in its Munich office in the near future. The main European Patent Office is in Munich, so there’s plenty of opposition proceeding work, which are cases brought by third parties who want to stop the office from issuing a particular patent, Normile said. Unlike in the United States, third parties are allowed to make a case as to why a particular patent should not be granted. “It’s part of our competitive advantage, so we can better serve our clients on a global basis,” Normile said. “We don’t have to go to an outside lawyer.” The intellectual property expansion into Europe is just one more example of firms internalizing work that may once have been referred out, said Ward Bower, a principal at law firm consultancy Altman Weil Inc.

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