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A year after acquiring venerable intellectual property boutique Seidel Gonda Lavorgna & Monaco, Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle & Reath has decided to expand its newfound depth in that practice area on the other side of the Atlantic. Drinker Biddle announced Thursday that it had established a strategic alliance with the Scotland-based IP firm Murgitroyd & Co. The two firms will collaborate in providing counseling and services to their clients across Europe and in the United States. Murgitroyd is a 27-year-old patent and trademark practice with approximately 140 employees, 40 of whom are practicing attorneys or European patent and trademark agents. The firm, which is based in Glasgow and has offices in Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin, London, Munich and Nice, has clients ranging from large multinational corporations to individual inventors. “IP is one of the most global practice specialties, particularly with people transmitting their IP through the Internet,” said Jack Michel, Drinker Biddle business department chairman. “We’ve handled matters in Europe through references. But this [alliance] gets rid of any inefficiencies that we had with those arrangements. And Murgitroyd needed more U.S. capabilities, so it made perfect sense on both sides.” Michel said that because this is Drinker Biddle’s first formal venture into Europe, firm management felt it was safer to start off with an alliance. While neither side has brought up “the ‘M’ word,” both Michel and Murgitroyd President Ian Murgitroyd said nothing would preclude a merger from occurring in the future. The conversations between the two firms have been ongoing for two years but always seemed to get sidetracked by changing events. Originally, Murgitroyd was skeptical because Drinker Biddle did not have any patent attorneys. Then Drinker Biddle was distracted by completing its merger last spring with 20-attorney Seidel Gonda, giving the 450-attorney firm the aforementioned patent expertise. After the Seidel Gonda lawyers settled in at their new professional home, Murgitroyd was busy this past winter going public on the London Stock Exchange — something that American law firms are obviously not legally allowed to do. “It was a personal decision for me and my family,” said Ian Murgitroyd, whose son and daughter are both attorneys at the firm. “I wanted to make sure I left my family in the best possible situation. Leaving them a private business is a liability and a responsibility I didn’t want to burden them with.” As for merging, Murgitroyd said there is a growing awareness in Europe that IP clients want one-stop shopping. And while the firm has expanded in Europe, it needed a major U.S. presence to satisfy American and Japanese clients while adding some new clients to its roster. “This is the ideal chance to get access to Drinker’s client base,” Murgitroyd said. “And we felt we had the critical mass that would be useful to them — translators and technically qualified patent and trademark attorneys.” Murgitroyd provides patent, trademark and other intellectual property services in the United Kingdom and Ireland, before the European Patent Office and the European Community Trademark Office as well as before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Aside from Michel, former Drinker Biddle Chairman Morgan “Dick” Jones and IP partner Greg Lavorgna were intimately involved in negotiating the terms of the alliance.

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