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“Trolls are not really the reason that patent brokerages should be successful, because they [are] at the low end of the marketplace,” Marino said. A broker’s expertise really matters in a bigger arena. “The kinds of disputes that can most benefit from the strategic use of patents are the ones among competitors.”

Even with some uncertainties facing the industry, IP investment banks aren’t having trouble recruiting talent from top law firms and companies. Aside from Knauer � who worked at now-defunct IP boutique Flehr Hohbach Test Albritton & Herbert and in-house at Gemplus � Ipotential recently hired a Kirkland & Ellis IP partner, Zachariah Higgins.

Observers say there’s still a lot of room for more IP advisory shops with the industry still in its nascent stages.

“There’s still room for the Goldman Sachs of IP investment banking,” Amster said.