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In-house lawyers like licensing work because it’s a great chance to work with the business side, negotiate deals, and add to the company’s bottom line. “We hire attorneys right out of law school,” says Allen Richmond, general patent counsel for Phillips Petroleum Company of Bartlesville, Okla. “For the first three to four years, they just write patent applications. By then, they’re chomping at the bit to get involved in licensing deals. They just plain like it.” The work also makes them better lawyers, says Richmond, because a kind of reverse engineering takes place. Company lawyers take the knowledge gained in the selling and negotiating process, and use that to write patents that lend themselves to licensing deals. “Being involved in business makes for better patents and better patent lawyers,” he claims. Gary Haag, senior patent counsel for Phillips, is one of those lawyers. He spends 90 percent of his time providing contract support for Phillips’ licensing effort, and he says that transactional work gives him the “big picture” regarding Phillips’ technology and patents: “I see the uses customers make of the technology, many of which go beyond the original applications.” Patent applications can then be written in language flexible enough to encompass those real-world uses. The results speak for themselves, says Richmond: Phillips’ licenses produce approximately $100 million a year. “This has been a very successful business model for 60 years,” he says. Most attorneys involved in licensing don’t just review agreements; they also help develop and negotiate the deals. Pittsburgh-based Alcoa, Inc.’s in-house attorneys, for example, have a superior technical knowledge and an intimate knowledge of their industry and its people, according to Ed Levine, the company’s director of intellectual property law. An outside attorney who only works in the industry periodically can’t keep up, he says. At one company, the lawyers even make the first sales call. Most of the licenses for Moline, Ill.’s Deere & Company stem from their attorneys spotting an infringement and approaching the infringer about a licensing agreement, says Raymond Hollister, associate general counsel and director of patents for Deere. Lawyers seem to enjoy this mixture of law and business. It gives them a chance to shed their “cost center” stigma by actually making some money for their company. While most law firms charge a flat hourly rate regardless of how much profit licenses generate, in-housers’ well-being is more tied to their company’s bottom line. The result: “Law firms see things from less of a business point of view,” says Tommy Gorham, senior counsel for global licensing at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble. “It’s a different approach.”

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