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Perkins Coie has established a patent prosecution practice in its Menlo Park, Calif. office with the acquisition of Iota Pi Law Group and three associates from Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. Iota Pi, which in Greek spells IP, joined Perkins on July 1. The patent prosecution boutique includes partner Peter Dehlinger, associate Linda Rabin Judge and four patent agents. Prior to the merger, Perkins Coie’s patent prosecution practice was limited to its Seattle headquarters, plus a couple of attorneys in its Denver office. The 540-attorney firm now has 25 patent prosecutors and more than 80 intellectual property attorneys. “We want to integrate patent prosecution work into our general corporate work” to better serve clients, said Edward Wes Jr., managing partner of Perkins Coie’s San Francisco and Menlo Park offices. “We feel very fortunate to have brought in such a high caliber group.” Iota Pi’s clients include Aclara BioSciences Inc., Alza Corp., Chiron Corp., Stanford University, University of California and Varian Associates. Prior to launching his own firm in 1989, Dehlinger was a partner at Irell & Manella. He had been with the patent boutique Ciotti & Murashige, which merged with Irell in 1987 and four years later split away and joined Morrison & Foerster. While Dehlinger has opted to fold his boutique into a larger firm, many other patent prosecutors have been moving in the opposite direction. In the last five years refugees from larger IP and general practice firms have launched at least 19 boutiques in the Bay Area. But Dehlinger said it’s a tough market to hire in these days. “It was fun having independence and avoiding conflict issues that big firms have,” Dehlinger said. However, he added that “micro groups like mine have not been able to grow and catch on.” Dehlinger and his colleagues had been looking to hook up with another firm for the past couple of years. When Wes called to suggest a merger, Dehlinger said it seemed like a good fit. The two had already established a relationship. Dehlinger hired Perkins to provide legal counsel for his start-up company, which is developing software tools for automating certain aspects of patent practice. In addition to the Iota Pi group, three Wilson Sonsini associates — Barbara Courtney, Richard Gregory Jr. and Michael Martensen — also jumped to Perkins this month. Perkins Coie established a Bay Area presence in October 1998 with the acquisition of 13-lawyer Hosie, Wes, Sacks & Brelsford. The firm now has 35 attorneys in its Menlo Park office and 16 in San Francisco.

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