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Laird PLC is in a lot of businesses. The London-based company’s product line ranges from antennas to power generators to precision metals.

A few years ago Laird set its sights on a new market: flexible graphite sheets for managing heat generated by microprocessors. But there was a potential obstacle. Competitor Graftech International Holdings Inc. was armed with patents covering the technology and a demonstrated willingness to assert them against others.

Laird outside counsel Matthew Cutler said companies facing such “blocking” patents historically have had three options: Stay out of the market, ask for a license (which might be refused), or jump in and await the inevitable patent infringement lawsuit.

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