Intellectual property attorneys Francis DiGiovanni, Jeffrey Eichen, M. Curt Lambert, Zhun Lu and Keith A. Walter Jr. have left Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg to join Drinker Biddle & Reath, both firms have confirmed.
The five attorneys are the latest intellectual property group to depart Novak Druce for Drinker Biddle. Last month, Drinker Biddle added seven former Novak Druce attorneys, including Ashley I. Pezzner and his father, Hal Pezzner. Other Novak Druce attorneys who left for Drinker Biddle include Hui-Ju Wu, Geoffrey Zelley, Daniel Rube, Claudia Schultze and Larry Williams.
Thomas P. McGonigle, the managing partner of Drinker Biddle’s Wilmington office, said the firm is focused on building up its intellectual property and patent practices in Delaware by attracting quality attorneys in that field.
“For our purposes, these are very respected intellectual property attorneys,” he said. “These attorneys are at the top of their class and we are pleased to have them.”
Drinker Biddle has a strong intellectual property practice group across the country, but only recently began focusing on building up the practice in Delaware, one of the busiest patent litigation jurisdictions in the country.
The firm had done some local counsel work in patent and intellectual property cases, but did not have an attorney dedicated to such litigation until Pezzner joined last month, McGonigle said.
“There is a demand for intellectual property litigation services in Delaware,” he said. “Drinker Biddle has the strength from our other offices throughout the country. We plan to grow our Wilmington office by focusing on our strengths, nationally.”
For Novak Druce, the move leaves the firm with 12 attorneys and four partners working out of the Wilmington office. The remaining partners include senior partner Jeff Bove, 76-year-old Rudolf E. Hutz, Robert G. McMorrow, and R. Eric Hutz. Rudolf Hutz is said to be very active and involved in the Wilmington office’s day-to-day workload.
Bove declined to discuss the impact five partners leaving the firm at once will have on the Wilmington office. But he did say it is fairly common for intellectual property attorneys to leave boutiques for general-practice firms.
“The attorneys wanted to leave to join a general-practice firm,” Bove said. “That is fairly typical in the intellectual property world. Obviously, we wish them the best of luck.”
In addition to Pezzner’s group, Patricia S. Rogowski, also an intellectual property attorney, left Novak Druce in February after 26 years to lead Philadelphia-based Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel’s expansion into Delaware. Rogowski represents clients in the consumer products and food sciences industries.
Other Novak Druce departures over the past two years include Thomas McWilliams, Edward “Ted” Behm, Michael Berman and Jefferson Cheatham, who joined Barnes & Thornburg in late 2012. Mary Bourke joined Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in October 2012 and brought four former Connolly Bove attorneys to her new firm. Chad Stover joined Barnes & Thornburg in October 2013.
Although there have been some departures, intellectual property attorney Eric J. Evain has returned to Novak Druce as special counsel after leaving earlier this year for McCarter & English. Evain, who rejoined the firm April 1, represents companies operating in a wide variety of chemical-related fields, including speciality chemicals, pharmaceuticals, polymers and petroleum.
For Drinker Biddle, the attorneys help bolster an intellectual property practice with five names sources have described as “heavy hitters.” The firm’s 21-attorney Wilmington office largely focuses on bankruptcy, corporate restructuring, real estate, government and regulatory affairs. The addition of the five new attorneys raises the number of Delaware-based intellectual property attorneys to 10.
DiGiovanni was said to have been the main rainmaker at Novak Druce after Rogowski joined Panitch Schwarze. An engineer, DiGiovanni represents clients in a variety of areas including patent, litigation, counseling and opinions, trademark and copyright litigation, and trade secrets in the mechanical and chemical industries. He recently secured a $6.5 million infringement verdict for his client against a competitor.
DiGiovanni is admitted to practice before all Delaware state and federal courts, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Eichen has more than 18 years of experience representing clients in patent, copyright, trademark and unfair competition litigation. He also counsels clients on patent and trademark licensing and development agreements.
Lu oversaw Novak Druce’s Asian-Pacific patent litigation, working with companies seeking to enter the U.S. market. He also represented American and other international companies seeking to do business in China. In addition to his legal work, Lu has lectured at law firms, universities, companies and conferences in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. He speaks Chinese.
McGonigle said Lu will be the key to expanding Drinker Biddle’s Asian intellectual property practice.
“Zhun has been very successful in that area,” he said. “Our hope is that he will give us a big boost there. He will definitely help us in that area.”
Walter represents chemical, pharmaceutical and medical device clients in patent, trademark, trade dress, false advertising, and unfair competition litigation. His practice also involves securing, maintaining and licensing of intellectual property rights in the United States and the rest of the world.
Lambert represents chemical and patent clients in patent litigation. Prior to joining Novak Druce, he was an engineer for speciality and bulk chemical facilities and consulting firms.