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A marriage between Palo Alto, Calif.’s Cooley Godward and New York intellectual property firm Pennie & Edmonds would give Cooley a long-desired presence in New York and bolster Pennie’s ranks, which have been depleted with the defection of key partners. IP attorneys and other industry insiders confirmed the two firms are in advanced talks. But Cooley and Pennie declined to discuss whether they are in merger discussions. “I’m not going to comment on it,” said Mark Pitchford, Cooley’s chief operating officer. “We’re considering a number of options, including a possible merger with a number of firms,” said Paul DeStefano, a partner in Pennie’s Palo Alto office. Both firms have been in the hunt for a merger partner before. Six months ago, Pennie was in discussions with Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, but DeStefano said the firm decided Jones, Day wasn’t the right fit. Cooley also has broached the possibility of a merger with other firms. Last year when rumors were going around that Cooley was in merger discussions with Los Angeles-based O’Melveny & Myers — which Cooley denied — former and current partners said Cooley had at one time talked to L.A.’s Latham & Watkins and London’s Bird & Bird. While in the past Cooley has looked for a partner that could give it an international presence, at least for now it’s focusing on a firm with a sizable New York practice. Pennie & Edmonds has 123 lawyers in New York, plus 29 in its Palo Alto office and 20 in its Washington, D.C., outpost. “It seems to me that it strategically would be a great thing,” said a Cooley partner. While declining to confirm that a merger is in the works, he said such a union “would add to Cooley’s already considerable IP depth.” Pitchford said Cooley has between 75 and 100 IP attorneys. Of these, about 35 are patent and trademark prosecutors and the remainder litigators. Pennie co-managing partner John Normile said his firm was divided about equally between prosecutors and litigators. “What Cooley gets is a New York presence with a strong IP practice, but one that has lost some key people recently and is maybe heavier on prosecution than would be ideal,” said legal consultant Peter Zeughauser. “Pennie is suffering attrition and needs a better platform, and Cooley is a great platform for them.” In March, Pennie lost Jonathan Marshall, the head of its litigation department, to New York’s Weil, Gotshal & Manges. And last month, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s New York office hired three patent litigators away from Pennie. While other partners have also defected in the past year, one industry insider said Pennie “started to unravel” with Marshall’s departure. Normile denied that Marshall’s loss had hurt the firm. The firm has 53 partners, “many with advanced degrees,” Normile said, “so the absence of a few folks won’t materially affect it.” An associate at Cooley said the firm has been talking about expanding into New York for the past three years and partners have felt the way to do so was through an acquisition. The discussions with Pennie are likely to be finalized by the end of the year, the associate said. “Cooley would want to determine whether to do a merger before they decide who to make partner.” Cooley ranked No. 39 in Recorder and law.com affiliate The American Lawyer magazine’s list of top 200 grossing firms, with gross revenue of $354 million and profits per partner of $715,000. Pennie came in at No. 130 with gross revenue of $130 million and profits per partner of $855,000.

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