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It was her lifelong love of words, Ann Ford says, that drew her to trademark law. “Trademarks are all about what words mean,” she explains. “I’ve always been interested in how consumers are attracted to products and services by the image a word imparts. That’s the core of what trademarks are all about.” The images that Ford helps protect identify everything from video games to rental cars to fruit juice smoothies. Ford, 53, is chair of DLA Piper’s trademark, copyright, and media practice group, which typically leads the country in the number of federal trademark registrations filed each year. Much of her own work involves behind-the-scenes advice on complex trademark issues — for example, structuring internal trademark licenses or creating special purpose entities for tax reasons. Ford is also co-managing partner of DLA Piper’s 175-lawyer D.C. office, an experience that she says has made her a better lawyer. “When you learn how to run the business side of the practice, you become much more attuned to issues with clients. It’s really honed my sensitivity to the business issues that companies go through.” Indeed, Michael Fox, vice president of legal affairs for California-based Jamba Juice Co., praises Ford’s commercial acumen. “Ann is what I call a �practical lawyer,’ in that her advice not only informs me of the law but also helps me fashion a business recommendation to management,” he says. Ford is assisting the fast-growing smoothie retailer, which now has 500 stores, as it expands on the East Coast and overseas. She is advising on co-branding efforts and expansion of product lines as well as trademark enforcement. “I love the business aspects of co-branding with other companies to leverage client brands and overseas rollout strategies,” she says. Closer to home, Ford provides business-savvy IP advice to TV One in Silver Spring, Md. Karen Wishart, TV One’s chief legal officer, describes her as “a brilliant lawyer who has street smarts.” Other longtime clients include National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car, which are both owned by Enterprise Rent-A-Car. With locations in more than 140 countries, the companies turn to Ford for assistance with worldwide trademark protection as well as franchise issues. “Ann approaches our matters with a blend of scholarship and pragmatism,” says Peter Smith, vice president of legal affairs. “She complements this approach with a vast network of resources. The result is a capability to support our global brands effectively and efficiently.” Ford has also assisted with the worldwide rollouts of video games such as the popular Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, released in 2006, and Fallout 3, scheduled for release later this year. The games’ maker, ZeniMax Media of Rockville, Md., turned to her for advice on complex financing and other transactions involving intellectual property. Although she is best known for her trademark expertise, Ford takes on copyright matters as well. For example, she defended retailer Calico Corners last summer when it faced a copyright infringement suit over the pattern of a floral fabric sold in its stores. Ford did “a great job,” says Roy Simpson Jr., president of Calico Corners’ parent company, Everfast Inc. Citing her experience, expertise, and “practical understanding,” he adds that she was able to negotiate “a creative solution with multiple parties while keeping a consistent awareness of managing our costs in the matter.” Ford counsels such nontraditional intellectual property clients as global business advisory firm FTI Consulting and private equity firm New River Capital Partners. FTI general counsel Eric Miller describes Ford as “a seasoned lawyer who delivers concise advice that combines technical expertise and sound business sense.” The company looks to her for day-to-day IP counseling and recently retained her for help with a trademark infringement claim. Another client is Lexis-Nexis Special Services Inc., which advises the federal government on data protection and identity theft concerns. General counsel James Worrall calls Ford “fast, efficient, and effective,” adding that he has been impressed with her responsiveness. She has advised the company on issues relating to ownership, protection, and enforcement of multiple forms of intellectual property. Ford also provides IP advice pro bono to former Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s nonprofit foundation. In an e-mail, Cohen calls Ford “a top-notch lawyer” as well as “a person of intelligence and integrity.” Ford earned her J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1980 and then joined D.C. communications boutique Fisher, Wayland, Cooper, Leader & Zaragoza. She moved to Baker & Hostetler in 1996, where she remained until joining Piper, Marbury, Rudnick & Wolfe, a predecessor firm to DLA Piper, in 2001.

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