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Seattle’s Perkins Coie will absorb storied Phoenix IP firm Brown & Bain on July 1. The combined 620-attorney firm will give Perkins Coie an Arizona presence and add luster to its intellectual property practice. The union will also allow Brown & Bain attorneys to regain a Silicon Valley foothold that was lost when the firm was forced to shutter its Palo Alto, Calif., office in 1999. On Thursday, both firms were enthusiastic about the union, particularly about the possibilities for the new firm’s IP practice. “This combination raises our visibility, breadth and depth to a new level,” said Michael Reynvaan, a partner on Perkins Coie’s management committee who was involved in initial talks with Brown & Bain. Now “we can compete for any work anywhere in the country,” he said. Brown & Bain is known for litigating groundbreaking intellectual property battles for Intel Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. One case, Apple’s suit against Franklin Computer Corp., established the right to copyright computer code. Brown & Bain also represented Apple in its unsuccessful copyright infringement suit against Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. over Microsoft’s Windows graphical interface. The Phoenix firm opened a Palo Alto office in 1979, but partner defections forced it to close in 1999. Perkins Coie, founded in 1912, has 550 attorneys and offices in 12 U.S. cities — including Washington, D.C., Portland, Denver, Boise, Idaho, and Chicago — in addition to outposts in Hong Kong and Beijing. The firm pulled in more than $270 million last year, a 10 percent bump over 2002. Partners earned $470,000 on average in 2003. Perkins Coie’s strong California presence — it has a total of 90 attorneys in San Francisco, Menlo Park and Los Angeles –made it an attractive merger partner, said Brown & Bain’s managing partner, Joseph Mais. While Brown & Bain no longer has a California office, the firm continues to do a significant amount of work for California clients such as Intel Corp., Maxim Integrated Products, Cypress Semiconductor Corp. and Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. “One of the reasons to do this is to have a presence in the Bay Area,” said Mais. While Brown & Bain has flirted with other firms — it nearly merged with Cooley Godward in the early 1990s — marriage did not become a priority until recently. Despite the firm’s top-notch IP credentials, it was having trouble convincing large corporate clients that a 70-attorney firm could do the same work as a national firm, Mais said. While Brown & Bain was eager to merge, the deal was not a matter of survival for the 44-year-old firm, said Mais. He declined to give specific figures, but said that profits per partner had increased 20 percent from 2002 to 2003 and were expected to rise 15 to 20 percent this year. “We are having our best year ever,” he said. Brown & Bain leaders will become part of Perkins Coie’s management structure. Mais will sit on Perkins Coie’s management committee and executive committee. Another Brown & Bain partner, Joel Nomkin, also sit on Perkins Coie’s executive committee. Mais will remain head of the Phoenix office. “This is an incredible fit,” said Perkins Coie Managing Partner Robert Giles in a statement. “They supplement our strengths in IP and complex litigation so that, together, we will be among the very top firms in the country.”

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