Tina McKeon has left the intellectual property boutique she helped found for Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. As a result, McKeon Meunier Carlin & Curfman, which McKeon launched in spring 2010, is now Meunier Carlin & Curfman.
“It’s difficult to leave something that you started and put your heart and soul into, but I found that the practice I have would benefit from the depth and infrastructure a large firm can offer,” said McKeon, who joined Kilpatrick as a partner last week.
McKeon focuses her patent prosecution and counseling work on life sciences and brings a team of five with her. Three patent agents, Kimberlynn Davis, Lizette Fernandez and Tiffany Thomas, who like McKeon have Ph.D. degrees, will join on Monday, along with a paralegal, Joey Ward, and an assistant, Christy Rutherford.
McKeon declined to name clients, saying they are still in transition. She said she works with a mix of large companies, startups, universities and research institutions.
Although McKeon has practiced patent law since 1996, she said she’s never worked in a general practice firm until now. She was a partner at Fish & Richardson, a national IP boutique, before starting McKeon Meunier Carlin & Curfman 2 1/2 years ago with another Fish & Richardson partner, Andrew Meunier.
Christopher Curfman from Ballard Spahr and Gregory Carlin, who had been IP counsel at Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine, Calif., are the other two principals.
McKeon joined Fish & Richardson in 2006 from a local IP boutique, Needle & Rosenberg, which became part of Philadelphia-based general practice firm Ballard Spahr in 2008.
She cited Kilpatrick’s “strong IP group and strong reputation both nationally and internationally” and said she was friends with a number of Kilpatrick lawyers, including Jamie Graham, who is the co-leader of Kilpatrick’s health and life sciences team, John McDonald and Virginia Taylor, along with John Pratt, who chairs the firm’s IP practice, and James Ewing IV.
“It was not a hard choice,” said McKeon.
Graham said in a statement that McKeon’s “well-established reputation within the biotechnology community and her extensive background in highly complex research and litigation” will add to Kilpatrick’s “deep bench of biotechnology expertise in Atlanta and across the firm.”
About 300 of Kilpatrick’s roughly 625 lawyers are IP practitioners.
McKeon is the chair-elect of the State Bar of Georgia’s intellectual property section and serves on the boards of Georgia Bio and Southeast BIO.
She said Meunier Carlin & Curfman “has an important role in the community and they’ll do well.” Joining a large firm will allow her to focus on her practice, instead of administration, she said, noting that using several patent agents in her practice allows her to “provide patent services at a reasonable rate,” even at a larger firm.
“One thing I hoped to accomplish with this move is to focus on my clients and client service. That’s what I’m good at and what’s important to me. It’s absolutely fine with me to have someone else make sure the lights are kept on,” McKeon said.
Meunier Carlin & Curfman has grown from five lawyers to 12 since its inception, making it one of the largest IP boutiques in Atlanta. Anthony Askew and Stephen Schaetzel joined the firm as partners from King & Spalding last year, adding litigation capabilities to the firm’s patent prosecution and counseling practice.
“We wish Tina well,” said Schaetzel. “We’re fortunate that our practice is continuing to grow,” he said, noting that the firm has added five lawyers since he joined. With patent agents, a scientific adviser and other staff, the firm employs about 30 people.
Meunier said the firm handles the full range of IP law, including trademarks and litigation. “We’re looking to hire two more attorneys. We’re in a growth phase,” he said.
Askew attributed the firm’s growth to experienced lawyers with a high level of expertise and a “reasonable billing rate structure.”
Askew and Schaetzel are representing the state of Georgia in a long-running copyright infringement suit brought by a group of academic publishers against Georgia State University in 2008 over the posting of textbook excerpts on its online reserve system for student use. The publishers are appealing the case after a federal judge awarded GSU almost $3 million in legal fees and expenses.