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As companies scramble to determine what they can patent and what they can protect, developing a strong intellectual property strategy is as important to executives as writing the company’s original business plan. And when it comes to major intellectual property cases and big-time clients that do battle over those patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and domain names, Boston-based lawyers have just as much silicon coursing through their veins as do lawyers on that other coast. Every general practice law firm with a large Boston office, it seems, is bolstering its intellectual property department, or else is building one from scratch. Even Hale and Dorr, which had already been regarded as one of the top technology law firms in the country, felt the need to shore up its intellectual property expertise over the past year; so it lured notable IP lawyer Nels Lippert away from White & Case last Jan. 21, to run its New York office. Lippert brought with him eight other attorneys, and such mega-clients as Pfizer and Novartis, to Hale and Dorr’s New York office. By stocking that office with lawyers who have extensive scientific and technological expertise, Hale and Dorr expects to be able to beat a number of well-established generalist New York firms in their own back yard. Not far away, in Roseland, N.J., Boston-based Goodwin, Procter & Hoar in June acquired 27 lawyers from a law firm that was known as one of the top IP firms in the region: Friedman Siegelbaum. Among the clients that they brought to Goodwin Procter were Blockbuster Entertainment Group, Citibank, Dow Jones & Co., Paramount Pictures Inc., Simon & Schuster, Showtime and Viacom International Inc. “The key is technology, not just for New England’s economy, but for the global economy,” says Hale and Dorr’s managing partner and IP litigator William Lee. “Technology is the key for this century. And if you believe that, then intellectual property, and the protection of your IP assets, becomes one of your most important tasks. That’s what you’re seeing in Boston and what you’re seeing throughout the country.” When it comes to IP cases, Lee more than holds his own. Since 1989, when he and his team represented Genetics Institute Inc. against Amgen Inc. in one of the country’s first big biotechnology cases, his name has become synonymous with IP litigation. They won that trial, and although they lost on appeal, the patent-infringement claim over the right to produce a recombinant protein shone a spotlight on Lee and led to the kind of cases that now take up more than 95% of his time, he says. Among the more recent cases that Lee has worked on: � In 1998, he represented Calgene, the company that researched, developed and brought to market the genetically engineered tomato. Calgene was accused by Enzo Biochem of violating four patents. Calgene won on all claims. � In a proceeding before the U.S. International Trade Commission, Lee represented Francesco Ricci, who invented the process for creating acid-washed denim. In a $3 billion market at the time, Hale and Dorr put together a licensing agreement for Ricci, and Lee helped the inventor win several million dollars in licensing fees. So it is something of an understatement when Lee says, “We’ve had a good run for the past five years.” But significant IP cases don’t always go to the biggest, most renowned firms. Edward Perlman, co-chairman of the Boston Bar Association’s IP section, has watched his Boston boutique, Wolf Greenfield & Sacks, take in more work than it could ever have expected in the area of trademarks and patents. “With the new economy, it is extremely important that people’s technology and inventions are protected and that they get the proper advice,” says Perlman. “There’s also a lot of activity around domain names.” DOMAIN NAMES In late August, Palmer & Dodge’s Mark Fischer and Laurie Gill won three domain-name cases: two for Palo Alto, Calif.-based AltaVista Corp. and one for Andover-based CMGI Inc. In all three cases, so-called cybersquatters had created Web sites with confusingly similar names to those of the well-known Internet companies. AltaVista, for example, had sued a Canada-based outfit that had set up Web sites under the domain names “Astavista.com” and “Altaivsta.com.” In both cases, a Web surfer who misspelled “Altavista.com” and instead entered one of those two names would be redirected to a sexually explicit Web site called Bitchpost.com. An arbitrator found in favor of AltaVista. Fischer, co-chairman of the World Law Group’s Intellectual Property/Internet practice group, has traditionally focused his business on music and entertainment copyright law. But with the rise of the Internet, he has begun to oversee the international trademark, copyright, and domain-name programs of several major Internet companies. Boston IP lawyer Paul R. Gupta says that during the past five years, Boston has shot out from the rest of IP crowd. “Ever since the Internet boom, Boston has been more than able to hold its own in terms of its IP bar compared to IP bars in other cities,” says Gupta, a partner at Boston’s Sullivan & Worcester and a member of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Intellectual Property. “There’s considerable overlap between the Internet and intellectual property,” says Fischer. A NATIONAL EMPHASIS Those cases show that the firm has put a national emphasis on IP work. Another example of that emphasis: last December’s acquisition of Boston-based intellectual property boutique Lappin & Kusmer. Although McDermott Will & Emery’s Boston group does less litigation and more patent and trademark prosecution and licensing, those lawyers do help their clients develop IP strategies. “I refer to it as ‘corporate psychiatry,’ ” says Mark Lappin, a former name partner at the boutique. “ It seems hotter than ever now.” Still another law firm that recently jumped into the IP fray is Providence, R.I.-based Edwards & Angell, which has a Boston office of more than 50 lawyers. In June, Edwards & Angell announced its acquisition of Boston-based IP boutique Dike, Bronstein, Roberts and Cushman, effective July 1. Edwards & Angell, which represented Fleet Financial Group in its acquisition of BankBoston Corp., now has the historically deep IP expertise of Dike Bronstein, the law firm that secured the original patent for the board game Monopoly, as well as the patents for such life-science inventions as the drugs AZT and Acyclovir.

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