J. Steven Baughman (Taylor Hooper)

J. Steven Baughman, a longtime IP litigator at Ropes & Gray, is leaving the firm for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Baughman is the latest high-profile lateral recruit to Paul Weiss, which last year hired top M&A partner Scott Barshay and bolted on a well-regarded antitrust team from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

Baughman, 48, heads to Paul Weiss after 21 years at Ropes & Gray, which he joined in 1996 after two years as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. At Ropes & Gray, Baughman spent three years in its Tokyo office, returning to the U.S. in 2010 to work out of Washington, D.C., where he became chair of the firm’s post-grant U.S. Patent and Trademark Office invalidity challenge and trial practice.

In 2012 and 2013, Baughman became one of the first IP lawyers to file petitions with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board when the new system took effect following the passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, as noted at the time by sibling publication Corporate Counsel. By 2014, Baughman had handled more than 50 cases before the PTAB. Last year Baughman and Ropes & Gray, as well as Paul Weiss, were among 45 firms that helped launch the PTAB Bar Association.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and SAP SE have been some of his key clients before the PTAB, Baughman said. He was also part of a Ropes & Gray team that successfully represented Apple Inc. in an iTunes patent fight before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2015, according to sibling publication The Recorder.

Paul Weiss has a relatively small IP litigation group led by partner Nicholas Groombridge in New York. In a statement, Groombridge said that “many major patent litigations today involve a PTAB component.” Paul Weiss chairman Brad Karp called Baughman “one of the nation’s top patent litigators and the country’s leading lawyer handling patent validity reviews before the [PTAB], a critical area of expertise demanded by our technology, biotech and pharmaceutical clients.”

Baughman said he was drawn to Paul Weiss after having faced off against some of its formidable litigators in other matters, which he declined to identify. He hopes that his PTAB expertise will help Paul Weiss become a key player in the competitive IP litigation arena.

“You want to have a unified [IP] strategy,” Baughman said. “American companies rely on technology for their competitive edge, so confidence in [their IP] is important.”

Baughman, a son of late Pepper Hamilton chairman Jon Baughman, joins a litigation group at Paul Weiss that is already home to litigation partner John “Jack” Baughman in New York. The two Baughmans are unrelated, said the firm’s most recent Baughman, although he jokingly noted that both Paul Weiss litigators are comparing family trees.

Baughman declined to name the legal recruiter he used in making the move to Paul Weiss.

Ropes & Gray saw two other IP litigation partners, Nicole Jantzi and Paul Schoenhard, leave its office in Washington, D.C., this week to join McDermott Will & Emery. Both lawyers handle litigation before the U.S. International Trade Commission. Ropes & Gray did recruit James Brown, co-chair of the tax department at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, for its office in New York.