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Title: General counsel Age: 42 Company: Palo Alto, Calif.-based Incyte Genomics Inc. is in the fiercely competitive business of genomics — an industry centered on the study of genes. The company did some of the subcontracted sequencing work that contributed to the recent completion of the first map of human DNA. But Incyte’s core business is focused on the finding and patenting of the 3 percent of the human genome that scientists think is responsible for a person’s genetic makeup. After the U.S. government, Incyte holds more gene-related patents than any other entity — 513 issued as of March. The company sells its genomic information, as well as clones of its patented genes, to subscribers such as Amgen Inc., Monsanto Co., Glaxo Wellcome, and a host of other major pharmaceutical companies and research institutions. Incyte also develops software and other technologies that aid in the understanding of genomic data. The company’s flagship product is LifeSeq, a genetic information database that includes 4 million searchable bits of gene sequence. Not A Geek: Although Bendekgey does not have a background in science, let alone any technical training in genomics, he plays an important role in negotiating Incyte’s relationships with the biotech companies and other heavy-hitting research institutions the company calls its partners. Recently, Bendekgey worked on the contracts that sealed a deal between Incyte and the National Institutes of Health, the organization driving the federally funded Human Genome Project. Incyte will clone full-length genes of humans and mice for inclusion in the NIH’s Mammalian Gene Collection, a publicly available catalog of genes. His liberal-arts-only education hasn’t inhibited his job performance, says Bendekgey. In fact, he sees it as a possible advantage. “Being a generalist is helpful, and being ignorant can be liberating,” he says, “because I ask things that no one else will ask, and get new answers to new questions.” He adds that because he openly acknowledges what his weaknesses are, the scientists around him feel comfortable. The Department: Bendekgey is the only non-patent lawyer in Incyte’s eight-member legal department. He looks to hire lawyers “with a high degree of scientific expertise, especially molecular biology, strong law school or employment background, and an interest in science and business.” On The Job: Bendekgey sits on Incyte’s executive committee and takes part in most of the company’s key management decisions. (In 1999, he was the third-highest-salaried exec at the company, with a salary and bonus of $240,000, although that was before the company hired its new COO and CFO.) He spends the bulk of his time managing and brainstorming with the 45 people in Incyte’s intellectual property department, which includes lawyers, tech writers and patent agents. His favorite thing about the job is “feeling as though people rely on my judgment.” He likes working with scientists: “It’s similar to [former employer Silicon Graphics Inc.], which was dominated by engineers. I prefer to interact with people whose background and thought processes are different from my own.” Bendekgey drafts and negotiates agreements with the company’s customers, tech suppliers and collaborators, and plays a broad supervisory role. He looks after the company’s litigation matters, securities law compliance, investments, patent filings and occasional acquisitions. Since he arrived at Incyte in 1997, the company has acquired Synteni Inc., which manufactures microarrays, or gene chips — small pieces of glass on which genes have been isolated, much like a computer chip — in an all-stock transaction of undisclosed value; and Hexagen Ltd. — a U.K. company that researches the tiny differences from one gene pool to the next that determine why, for example, some people contract cancer and others don’t — for $5 million in cash and about a million shares of Incyte common stock. Litigation: For a company in the risky business of patenting genes, Incyte has been involved in a surprisingly small number of patent suits. Two are now pending. In January 1998, Affymetrix Inc., a firm which produces gene chips, sued Incyte in federal court in the Northern District of California. The companies are sparring over the ownership of three patents, two on microarrays and one on a technology for comparing how genes are turned on or off in a particular disease. The parties are just finishing the discovery phase and moving toward trial. Incyte has spent a total of about $12 million defending the suit so far. Meanwhile, discovery is beginning in the suit that Incyte brought against Gene Logic Inc. in December 1999, also in the Northern California district court. Incyte is suing for alleged infringement of two patents, one on a method of preparing samples for microarray experiments, the other involving the use of a technology to study malignant or pre-malignant conditions such as cancer. How did a nice liberal arts major end up in a place like this? “I went to law school because I didn’t know what else to do,” admits Bendekgey, a graduate of Stanford Law School. From there he went to San Francisco’s Graham & James, where he practiced corporate and IP law for more than 10 years. The IP part — primarily related to software and computer technology — was purely an accident, he says. The firm happened to be involved in some big IP cases, and Bendekgey was the junior associate sent off to get involved. He bailed out when opportunities to learn on the job became few and far between. “As rates go up, clients become less willing to pay you to do anything new,” he says. He then moved in-house at Silicon Graphics Inc., where he spent four years at a variety of legal and management positions. Malaise was just setting in again when the Incyte opportunity came up in 1997. “I was hired because I am something of a generalist,” says Bendekgey. He snapped up the chance to be GC at Incyte because the company was big enough to have a lot of interesting legal problems to solve, but small enough for him to make a difference there. Outside Counsel: Pillsbury Madison & Sutro (corporate/securities); Washington, D.C.’s Howrey Simon Arnold & White (litigation); New York’s Fish & Neave (litigation and patents); San Diego’s Grey Cary Ware & Freidenrich (licensing); and London’s Taylor Joynson Garrett (U.K. legal work, such as the Hexagen acquisition). Family: Bendekgey and his wife, Lisa Hartwig, have two boys: Freddie, 5, and Harry, 2. A third baby is due in November. Bendekgey will be taking paternity leave. “As a 26-year-old, I wouldn’t have asked, but now it’s important to me, and I feel I have demonstrated my value. I’m sure it will be fine with everyone.” Last Book Read: “A Man in Full” by Tom Wolfe.

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