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Nine months after formally creating a stand-alone intellectual property group, Los Angeles-based O’Melveny & Myers has taken the next step in developing the practice. Under a plan unveiled by the firm in October, O’Melveny’s 70-lawyer IP department will comprise five newly created sub-practices, including IP transactions and outsourcing and health care and medical technology. The new practice structure is intended to improve the group’s internal operations and its ability to serve clients as O’Melveny continues its push into the booming intellectual property sector. “We’ve gotten large enough that we needed to use practice groups to focus some of the concentrated efforts we’re making in IP,” said Darin Snyder, who is co-head of O’Melveny’s new patent and technology litigation sub-practice. “I think that the primary advantages are in coordinating the delivery of services to clients, in training and in recruiting new lawyers,” said Snyder. “Hopefully there will be some advantages on the marketing side but that’s not what drove the decision.” The change is the latest sign that O’Melveny is placing more emphasis on its growing IP practice. In June, O’Melveny’s Newport Beach office picked up five attorneys from disintegrating Los Angeles IP boutique Lyon & Lyon. A few months before that, the firm lured veteran patent prosecutor Mark Miller from Fliesler, Dubb, Meyer & Lovejoy. Prior to February, O’Melveny’s IP attorneys were scattered throughout the corporate and litigation groups, without an individual IP home base. “We found a year ago that we were having a difficult time with recruiting because we would go on campus or we would meet lateral attorneys and they would act surprised and say ‘Gee, I didn’t know you guys did IP work,’” said Brian Berliner, the head of O’Melveny’s newly minted patent and trademark prosecution group. The five new IP sub-practices at O’Melveny are: patent and technology litigation; IP transactions and outsourcing; patent and trademark prosecution; copyright, trademark and Internet; and health care and medical technology. The new groups highlight the disparate assets that O’Melveny says make up its full-service IP practice. “We’ve tried to field all the IP practices that any client would need,” said Berliner. James Gilliland Jr., the chairman of San Francisco-based Townsend and Townsend and Crew, a 145-attorney firm that specializes in IP, said the new groups at O’Melveny mirror the structure already in place at firms like his. “On a macro level it appears that O’Melveny is trying to organize its IP group in the same way that an IP specialty firm already is organized,” said Gilliland. “I think it makes sense as a wise management tool,” he said. “At the end of the day, though, the issue as a competitor will be, do they have the same depth of capability as a firm like Townsend has.” Meanwhile, other large, general practice firms have established formidable footholds in the IP market. San Francisco-based Morrison & Foerster established a full-service IP division in 1990. Attorneys at O’Melveny described last month’s changes to its IP group as more of a fine-tuning than an overhaul. “As far as what the day-to-day life of an attorney here is, I don’t think it’s going to change,” said Berliner. “I just think it really provides us with a tool to manage our resources a little bit better.” Attorney training will be more effective, said Berliner, since each group can provide training that focuses on its particular practice area, whether it’s IP litigation or patent prosecution. O’Melveny attorneys are not limited to any single sub-practice. The process of completing the reorganization is expected to be complete in a matter of weeks.

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