Fast-growing California firm Rimon, which this summer opened an office in Kansas City, Missouri, after hiring a longtime Husch Blackwell intellectual property litigator, is poised to take on an eight-member IP team from Duane Morris.
The group is led by Karineh Khachatourian, who founded and previously served as managing partner of Duane Morris’ Silicon Valley office. She will be joined by fellow partners Amir Tabarrok, David Xue and Justin Zahrt, along with associate Nikolaus Woloszczuk and three staff members.
“I have been working in Big Law for 20 years,” said Khachatourian about her decision to leave Duane Morris, which she joined from K&L Gates in 2013, for the smaller Rimon. “I wanted to do something different and I wanted a platform that I believed might be more aligned with the Silicon Valley culture and with my clients.”
Unlike an Am Law 100 firm, Khachatourian said that Rimon’s model is “nimble,” “creative” and “fast-moving.” She and other lawyers joining the firm were attracted to the firm’s platform and network, as well as to its flexibility with billing and a lack of bureaucracy.
“I have seen a trend in Silicon Valley [where] people hire lawyers and not law firms, and that they are looking for firms that can grow with them,” said Khachatourian, a prominent female practitioner in the often male-dominated field of IP litigation.
Rimon, founded in 2008 in San Francisco, now has 20 offices in the United States, Italy and China. The firm’s co-founding partner and CEO, Michael Moradzadeh, said he has been keeping in touch with Khachatourian over the last six years since Duane Morris hired her to build out its office in Palo Alto.
“We weren’t quite ready for her, I don’t think she was ready for us,” said Moradzadeh about Khachatourian. But during the past few years, as Rimon expanded its IP litigation and patent prosecution practice, the two finally decided to join forces.
“We did not have patent prosecution [expertise] in Silicon Valley before. We have excellent patent litigation, but this will double our capabilities [here],” said Moradzadeh, a Ropes & Gray alum who co-founded Rimon a decade ago with partner and current COO Yaacov Silberman.
With the addition of Khachatourian’s group, Rimon will now have 23 partners in its IP team. The firm’s Silicon Valley office in Menlo Park has grown into an outpost of 25 lawyers, including 21 partners. Moradzadeh said the IP team will work closely with Rimon’s corporate, litigation, private client and tax teams to assist clients’ full-spectrum needs.
“Of course Big Law lawyers and groups move from firm to firm all the time,” Moradzadeh added. “But I think this is a bit unique because we are a hybrid law firm or an alternative law firm. [Hiring these] IP litigators … is kind of proof that this model is really taking off.”
As a first chair IP litigator, Khachatourian has handled a range of legal issues in court and before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for clients in the consumer products, internet of things, network enterprise, semiconductor and software sectors. Prior to joining Duane Morris in 2012, Khachatourian spent three years at K&L Gates. Before that she was a partner at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo for two years and Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani for another year.
“It was just time for a change,” Khachatourian said. “I am really excited to see what I can accomplish in a different model.”
Khachatourian, who is involved in a number of organizations that promote diversity in the legal profession, will also become Rimon’s new diversity chair. She also serves as an advisory board member of IP Counsel Café, chair of the strategic development board and co-leader of the general counsel network at Watermark (a group for executive women) and co-founder of Salonnières, a social organization for female professionals.
Also joining Rimon are Tabarrok and Zahrt, both of whom joined Duane Morris in Palo Alto three years ago this month when the firm absorbed their own patent prosecution boutique. Tabarrok is a registered patent lawyer focused on drafting and prosecuting patent applications in the electrical, mechanical and computer software fields. Zahrt, however, represents clients in obtaining, evaluating and protecting IP.
Xue, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science, represents clients in the full array of patent issues, including counseling, prosecution, litigation and inter partes review and U.S. International Trade Commission proceedings. The former Goodwin Procter and Perkins Coie lawyer joined Duane Morris as a senior associate in 2013 and was promoted to partner four years later.
Xue previously worked as a director of development at Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and as a vice president at Vimicro Electronics International Ltd., a fabless semiconductor company based in Hong Kong.
As for Rimon, earlier this month the firm hired former Nixon Peabody corporate partner Theodore Ghorra in New York, where Rimon started out 2018 by grabbing ex-Gibbons finance and restructuring partner Suzanne L’Hernault. Rimon also set up shop in Kansas City in July after bringing aboard former Husch Blackwell partner Patrick Kuehl Jr.