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Fish & Richardson, a national intellectual property firm, has become a second target of a patent infringement lawsuit initially brought by Illinois Computer Research LLC against just Google Inc. Illinois Computer Research (ICR), which filed the lawsuit last month, amended the complaint this month to include allegations that Fish & Richardson tried to intimidate a key witness in the case, specifically one of the firm’s former partners in San Diego who allegedly was fired in connection with the matter. Illinois Computer Research v. Google Inc. and Fish & Richardson, No. 07-5081 (N.D. Ill.). The plaintiff alleges that the firm fired partner Scott Harris, who is also an inventor, because he sold patents to ICR, which then sued Google, a Fish & Richardson client, for infringing on one of those patents. Fish & Richardson also falsely claimed it owned the patent, which protects a software capability to view online a limited number of pages of a book, according to the lawsuit. Violated agreements? “Harris was involved in outside business ventures while he was a principal of Fish & Richardson that were not authorized by the firm and appear to have violated his agreement with the firm,” Fish & Richardson said in a statement. ICR’s lawsuit asserts that Fish & Richardson demanded that Harris sell his patents in May 2007, and that he did so under an agreement that also requires him to cooperate in the enforcement of the patents. When ICR threatened to sue Google in August, Google complained to Fish & Richardson, which allegedly attempted to intimidate Harris and thwart the agrement, the lawsuit says. “It’s funny that [Fish & Richardson] holds itself out as championing the rights of its patent owners, but punishes one of its own,” said Raymond P. Niro, a partner at Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro in Chicago who is representing ICR in the case. Lynne Lasry, with Sandler, Lasry, Laube, Byer & Valdez in San Diego, is acting as employment counsel to Harris. She didn’t return calls seeking comment. David Bradford of Jenner & Block, who is representing Fish & Richardson, declined to comment. Google didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

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