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Two established intellectual property boutiques, Woodcock Washburn, based in Philadelphia, and Merchant & Gould, based in Minneapolis, want a bigger piece of the expanding Atlanta IP market. Woodcock has launched an Atlanta office — its second outside of Philadelphia — and Merchant & Gould, which opened an Atlanta office five years ago, has named a new managing partner, Alan G. Gorman, who says he wants to add lawyers as part of his firm’s nationwide expansion. Woodcock’s Atlanta outpost is starting with four lawyers. Two are local: Christopher M. Arena, who was chief IP counsel at Cingular Wireless, and Eduardo Carreras, who comes out of a brief retirement as chief IP counsel for The Coca-Cola Co. Arena joins as a partner and Carreras as of counsel. Woodcock partner Wendy A. Choi is moving from Philadelphia to lead the Atlanta office and Lawrence A. Aaronson, who is of counsel, also is relocating. The firm has leased almost 7,000 square feet at 2002 Summit Blvd., near Perimeter Mall. Woodcock opened a Seattle office in 2000, primarily to serve Microsoft Corp., said Steven J. Rocci, a partner on the firm’s policy committee. That office has expanded its representation to other clients in Washington state, on the West Coast and in the Far East, he said. Rocci said the 85-lawyer firm has no Atlanta client on the scale of Microsoft, but it does work for a number of local companies, including Cox Communications, BellSouth Corp., the Weather Channel and Constar, which manufactures beverage containers. However, it was not clients but the firm’s relationship with Arena that prompted the opening of the Atlanta office, Rocci said. Rocci has known Arena since 1989, when the latter interviewed for a job with Woodcock out of law school — which he turned down to go to another Philadelphia firm. The two kept in touch though and have done business since Arena moved to Atlanta 10 years ago to go in-house, first at BellSouth and then, for the last four years, at Cingular. Rocci declined to say if Arena would bring Cingular work with him to the new Woodcock office. “It would be premature and presumptuous to say, but if he could, that would be great.” Arena also said it was premature to say if he would bring Cingular work. Carreras, 53, took early retirement from Coke, where he’d practiced for 21 years, because the law department was being restructured in a way that “was not amenable to having an IP counsel,” he said. Starting the Woodcock office appealed to him because it offered the more entrepreneurial culture of a small firm, coupled with “great talent and great backup,” he said. Like his colleagues, Carreras thinks the Atlanta market for IP law is growing fast. “When I came here over 20 years ago, there were very few patent attorneys and very little in the way of technology companies. Now it’s wide open, and there are an increasing number of patents being filed in Georgia,” he said. Woodcock hopes to add two or more lawyers to the Atlanta office over the next year. The Seattle office started with three lawyers in 2000 and now has 10, Rocci said. “We’d like to do the same thing in Atlanta, but faster.” In the beginning, the firm likely will send some work to Atlanta from its Philadelphia and Seattle offices, said Rocci, but he does not expect that to be the case for long. “I’ve got the feeling that the office will be sustaining itself or sending work to us if indications are good.” Rival IP boutique Merchant & Gould, which opened an Atlanta office in 2000, has made Gorman its local managing partner, replacing Leonard J. Hope, who left in April to start his own patent prosecution practice. Gorman, 38, joined Merchant & Gould in 1992 after law school and in 2002 became the youngest person elected to the firm’s three-person executive committee. He moved to Atlanta a year and a half ago to help develop the firm’s office here. He said that he hopes to further expand the office, which started with three lawyers and has grown to 14. He’s been traveling extensively to Minneapolis and other offices as a member of the executive committee. His term is ending, which will give him time to run the Atlanta office and get more involved in the community, he said. Merchant & Gould was solely a Minneapolis firm for about the first century of its existence (including predecessor firms). In the last decade it’s opened offices in Seattle, Denver, Washington and Atlanta. The firm chose “vibrant, growing” cities where it saw potential for IP work, Gorman said. The firm’s primary local clients are BellSouth, Cox Communications and American Megatrends, said Gorman. The Atlanta office also does work for national clients such as Microsoft, he said. Gorman said Merchant & Gould would like to become one of the country’s dominant IP boutiques. To that end, its goal is to expand from about 110 lawyers to 350.

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