Law firm hiring of intellectual property specialists is showing no sign of slowing down this year.
In one of the latest IP hires, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo—newly branded as Mintz—has added New York-based Michael Graif, who previously led the intellectual property practice at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.
Graif focuses on trademark enforcement, technology transactions, patent and trademark portfolio management, social media law and publicity rights. He also prepares and negotiates licensing, development and joint venture agreements and advises clients on the IP aspects of business transactions.
Graif arrived at Mintz on Monday as a member, after spending more than 10 years as a partner at Curtis, where he led an IP practice with about five attorneys, he said.
While his focus is now trademark enforcement and tech deals, Graif also has experience in patent litigation and prosecution. An electrical engineer who began his career at the now-defunct Kenyon & Kenyon IP boutique, he also previously practiced at Venable and Chadbourne & Parke, now part of Norton Rose Fulbright.
Graif said he represents clients in the software and technology industries, housewares, startups and in media. A number of clients have agreed to move to his new firm, he said, adding, “I’m very optimistic.”
Graif said he was persuaded to move by the “strength and depth” of Mintz’s IP practice. He has known managing member Robert Bodian for more than three years, he said, and “when he presented the opportunity to me, I felt it would be great for my practice, to be part of a strong, collaborative team.”
The firm’s IP department is one of its largest, with more than 130 attorneys and other professionals, such as patent agents.
This year has seen a flurry of IP lawyer moves. Fenwick & West, Goodwin Procter, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton are among firms hiring groups of IP lawyers, while others have added notable lateral IP partners. And in August, Venable announced its merger with New York-based intellectual property firm Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto.
Graif himself pointed to strong client demand for advice on technology disputes and transactions, as well as the latest challenges surrounding artificial intelligence, fintech and blockchain. Technology is helping to drive the economy, he said, “and IP lawyers are benefiting from that, and given that dynamic, there’s more lateral movement.”