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What do Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison; Fish & Richardson; and Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnel have in common? They seem as different as, well, San Francisco, Boston, and Wilmington, the respective home cities of the three firms. Brobeck is the midwife of Silicon Valley; Fish & Richardson, the Brahman of the patent bar; Morris Nichols, the consigliere for corporate America. For the year 2000, the three were among the busiest patent trial firms in the country. Fish & Richardson represented more defendants than any other firm and was involved in the most number of cases overall. Brobeck filed more cases on behalf of plaintiffs, followed by Morris Nichols. Fish & Richardson, founded in 1878 as a patent firm, is just doing what comes naturally. But Brobeck is known for taking startups public, and Morris Nichols for navigating leviathans through the mandarin ways of the courts in corporate-friendly Delaware. It is a sign of the IP times that firms like Brobeck and Morris Nichols have decided to try patent cases, a market once left to the slide-rule and pocket-protector set. As the economy cools and the new economy goes cold there is less of a need for traditional corporate finance counseling and litigation skills. But IP is a growth stock that hasn’t gone out of fashion. Last year we looked at the firms that filed the most cases for the first six months of 2000. Here, we have examined the whole year. As set forth below, you’ll discover the firms that corporate America trusts on IP matters. The firms represent a mix of old and new, East and West — even Midwest. The firms new to IP have built market share on the strength of big victories, notably plaintiffs powerhouses Minneapolis’ Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi; and San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster. Lies, damn lies, and lists. We’re not saying that Fish & Richardson is the nation’s best patent firm or Brobeck, the best plaintiffs’ firm — actually, the firm views itself as a defense firm. But over the course of a year, the cream does tend to rise to the top. Brobeck’s strong showing, for example, is the residue of firm chairman Tower Snow’s design and James Elacqua’s skill. Several years ago Snow went casting about for a superstar to launch a practice. As reporter Ashby Jones writes, Snow found Elacqua, who proceeded to make rain. Elacqua had been at the former Arnold White & Durkee (now Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White.) Is there a secret to Fish & Richardson’s success? California and New York offices help. Of the 2,400 patent cases filed last year, courts in California and New York led the way, with 563 and 181, respectively. But there’s internal chemistry at work, too. Chief correspondent Mike Godwin reports on how the firm takes pains to keep its burgeoning national practice together — and bridge the gap between the patent prosecutors and trial lawyers. Godwin’s report on Morris Nichols explores an external dynamic — the special knowledge that the firm’s lawyers have of Delaware courts and how they used that to build an IP practice. The firm parlayed the “Delaware difference” into a nationwide presence. We relied on CaseStream (www.casestream.com), a Web-based docket retriever, to construct our list. We also tapped Michael J. Ravnitzky, American Lawyer Media’s director of database & computer-assisted reporting. We counted all patent cases that were still active as of March 22. Pay attention to the statistics, but read the stories. Back to “Their Secret to Success: America’s Busiest IP Firms”

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