Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
As intellectual property and licensing counsel for the Harris Corp., Frederick Jorgenson is a familiar sight in the halls of the Eastern District of Virginia, even though he works out of Harris’ Florida headquarters. Laboring alongside the company’s outside counsel, Jorgenson makes sure that the rights of the $2 billion communications corporation are protected and the litigation stays on track. Over the century that it has been in existence, Harris has built up a substantial patent portfolio — including patents for semiconductors, a business the former printing press company left a few years ago, and communications equipment. One of two attorneys who manage IP trials for Harris, Jorgenson handles licensing and enforcement of those patents. It’s not Jorgenson’s practice to take an accused patent infringer to court right away. First, he’ll make contact and try to work things out. “In almost every case, we contacted folks and tried to establish some level of dialogue,” says Jorgenson. “We have several licenses that were just straight negotiations.” Be warned, though — if talks do not settle the dispute, Jorgenson and his colleagues at Harris are ready to go to court. And for more than half of their cases, that means the quick docket of the Eastern District of Virginia. Jorgenson relies on the company’s Alexandria branch, the Harris Technical Services Corp. — which deals primarily with the federal government — to provide it with jurisdiction in the “Rocket Docket.” Harris, Jorgenson says, will not sit on its rights if it believes a patent is being infringed: “If you can take in an extra $100 million in licensing revenue, that’s a real impact. There’s a fiduciary obligation on behalf of the shareholders to realize the revenues.” In what Jorgenson terms one of Harris’ biggest cases and “complex litigation at its most complex,” Harris sued the Siemens Corp. in 1998 to enforce several patents regarding DRAM, power transistor, and other technologies. Siemens countersued, seeking enforcement of a similar number of its own patents. Siemens counsel Michael McKeon, a partner at the D.C. office of Fish & Richardson, says that Harris “had a pretty good team packaged up when they decided to start enforcement actions.” He observes that Harris will often litigate sets of patents against a company. Calling Harris’ attorneys aggressive and experienced, McKeon notes that the hard-fought case, like some of the other cases he has had against Harris, ended up settling. And Jorgenson agrees that this is not an unusual ending for any patent suit. “Most of our cases don’t get to the actual trial phase,” he says. Litigation may be necessary, Jorgenson explains, because “a lot of our patents are being tested by fire. No company is going to pay millions in licensing fees without testing a patent first. You’ve got to convince the company that you’re offering a patent [and] that the patent is good.” And litigating a case means that Jorgenson, with Harris’ in-house team of 14 lawyers, follows the action at every step. “Harris’ position is not one where we transfer the case to a law firm, and they get back to us when it’s over,” says Jorgenson, who adds that “we’re there for depositions, motions, [and] negotiations because we’re the ones who write the license agreements — that’s where our experience is.” Splitting responsibilities between Harris’ in-house attorneys and its outside counsel — including Alexandria’s Richards, McGettigan, Reilly & West; Houston’s Fulbright & Jaworski; and San Francisco’s Keker & Van Nest — is an integral part of trial preparation and execution. General discovery motions, for example, will be handled by local counsel, says Jorgenson, but “if it relates to the merits of infringement, then we typically will take the lead in drafting the motion.” This set-up best serves Harris, asserts Jorgenson (who is preparing to leave for Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. this fall). “We regularly face companies that deposit litigation with a law firm. We often find that they spend far more in legal fees than we do because there’s a lack of focus,” opines Jorgenson. “Some companies don’t care what happens in litigation. It’s easy to get lost in the fight.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.