Patent litigators go firm-hopping amid IP practice push

Legal offices of the Winston & Strawn law firm in Washington, D.C.. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

  • Summary
  • Companies
  • Law firms
  • White & Case, Winston & Strawn and McKool Smith all hired patent litigators this week
  • Peter Armenio, former co-head of Quinn Emanuel’s global life sciences practice, says innovation economy driving hires

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(Reuters) – U.S. law firms have been beefing up their patent litigation practices this week, with White & Case, Winston & Strawn and McKool Smith all pulling in new partners and Irell & Manella expanding to the East Coast.

White & Case on Thursday announced it has poached patent litigator Peter Armenio from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, where he co-led the firm’s global life sciences practice. Armenio is joining White & Case’s global intellectual property practice in New York.

Also on Thursday, Winston & Strawn said it had recruited Kelly Hunsaker, a 17-year veteran of IP firm Fish & Richardson before she went on sabbatical in 2015, in Silicon Valley. The day before, trial firm McKool Smith tapped Paul Hastings’ Christina Ondrick as a principal in Washington, D.C., while Irell & Manella launched a new D.C. office, marking the IP-focused firm’s first location outside Southern California in 30 years. Irell also recruited an associate solicitor from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a counsel.

With the U.S. and global economies increasingly driven by IP innovation and competition, there’s naturally growing demand for IP lawyers and patent litigators, said Armenio, who has represented Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer in litigation, according to his archived Quinn Emanuel webpage.

“As we go to a greater focus on innovation and development, the importance of intellectual property goes hand in hand with that,” Armenio said.

Patent litigation has “increased in both scope and complexity in recent years,” Kathi Vidal, the managing partner of Winston’s Silicon Valley office, said in a statement on Hunsaker’s hire. Vidal also took her litigation practice to Winston from Fish, joining in 2017.

Armenio said he was drawn to White & Case due to its life sciences industry ties and expertise, its ability to offer more than just litigation services to IP clients, and its global platform.

Hunsaker, who is returning to the practice of law following a nearly six-year pause, said she opted to join Winston in part to reunite with former Fish colleagues Vidal and Tom Melsheimer, the managing partner of Winston’s Dallas office. Like Armenio, Hunsaker also touted the full suite of legal services Winston is able to provide.

“What drew me to Winston was the opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues who are widely respected, who I collaborate with very well and who are leading patent and IP cases on the cutting edge of both law and technology,” she said.

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David Thomas

David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.

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David Thomas