Pair of Woodcock Washburn IP Litigators Join Duane Morris
In what has been a very quiet lateral market for intellectual property lawyers this year, Duane Morris has hired two IP litigators from Woodcock Washburn in Philadelphia, including the head of its litigation practice.
Aleksander J. Goranin, the chair of Woodcock Washburn's litigation practice, and David J. Wolfsohn, a former chair of the practice, have joined Duane Morris as partners.
Goranin focuses his practice on litigating patent, copyright, trademark and trade-secret cases in the software, life sciences and manufacturing technologies industries.
Wolfsohn tries patent, copyright, licensing, trademark, unfair competition, Lanham Act and trade-secret cases.
The duo worked together on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case The Graham Co. v. USI MidAtlantic, which resulted in a $30.4 million judgment, the largest indirect-profits copyright award ever.
Duane Morris Chairman John J. Soroko said the addition of Wolfsohn and Goranin strengthens the litigation component of the firm's Philadelphia IP presence, which until now has tended more toward transactional IP work.
Soroko said having greater IP litigation capabilities so close to the Delaware federal courts is also a plus and that Wolfsohn and Goranin are among the "best of the breed" of IP litigators.
Wolfsohn served as the chair of Woodcock Washburn's litigation practice until July 2011, when senior partner Steven J. Rocci stepped down as chair of the firm's policy committee and took over as head of litigation.
Goranin became head of the practice in 2012.
Duane Morris changed the leadership of its own IP practice in early 2012 with partner Lewis F. Gould Jr. stepping down and Atlanta-based partner L. Norwood "Woody" Jameson taking his place and has been aggressively hiring IP lawyers ever since.
Soroko told The Legal in March that IP litigation in the technology sector, doing work for clients like Cisco Systems and SAP, was one of the main drivers of its revenue growth in 2012.
In January, the firm opened a Silicon Valley office in Palo Alto, Calif., with the addition of former K&L Gates IP litigation partner Karineh Khachatourian and associate Patrick S. Salceda.
Soroko said at the time that the firm wanted to get closer to the types of clients that fall into the firm's IP "sweet spot," which he said was in the computer, high-tech and telecommunications space.
Speaking to The Legal on Friday, Soroko said the Silicon Valley office has been a success.
"It's really going very well from our perspective," Soroko said. "The real benchmark when you look at what kind of traction you're getting in a new office is, 'Have you had to hire anyone additional? Who and why?' We've added a number of additional associates to support the work out there."
Soroko said that, in addition to Khachatourian and Salceda, the Silicon Valley office now includes two other full-time associates, as well as about 10 other attorneys who split their time between Palo Alto and the firm's San Diego and San Francisco offices.
Soroko said he anticipates Wolfsohn and Goranin will also be "extremely active" in the Silicon Valley office.
With only one partner currently working in Palo Alto full-time, Soroko said there's a "very good opportunity for [Wolfsohn and Goranin] to plug in as partners at the first-chair and second-chair level."
Wolfsohn and Goranin told The Legal on Friday that the Silicon Valley office was one of the main things that attracted them to Duane Morris.
Wolfsohn, noting his respect for Khachatourian, said having a presence in that market is important because they have a number of clients in the software industry.
"It feels like the firm has been growing in a really smart direction," Wolfsohn said.
Goranin said Duane Morris has developed a reputation in the tight-knit patent and IP litigation community as a firm making significant strides in that practice area, noting that Jameson and fellow Atlanta IP litigator Matthew C. Gaudet have garnered buzz among IP lawyers.
Soroko said Wolfsohn and Goranin would be working closely with the lawyers in Atlanta, which he called "the nominal center of gravity" of Duane Morris' IP practice.
Wolfsohn said that while there are benefits to the IP boutique model, he and Goranin were interested in joining a firm with a larger cadre of litigators than they had at Woodcock Washburn.
Goranin said that when a client is demanding a quick turnaround on a matter, being able to ramp up staffing is important and often difficult to accomplish at a small firm.
Wolfsohn said the other advantage of moving from a boutique to a large general practice firm is the ability to cross-sell other services to clients beyond IP.
The increasingly international scope of Duane Morris' practice is also a benefit, Wolfsohn said, because his and Goranin's clients have international businesses and face international IP issues.
Wolfsohn and Goranin said IP litigation has remained steady over the past few years and cited disputes involving nonpracticing entities as a particularly hot area.
NPEs — commonly and derogatorily referred to as patent trolls — file patent infringement suits despite not manufacturing products or providing services based on those patents. They have been the subject of well-publicized controversy recently with companies like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung being forced to fend off such suits.
"There is still a lot of that type of litigation around," Wolfsohn said, adding that IP litigation in general is expected to ramp up as businesses continue to recover from the recession.
Joseph Lucci, a member of Woodcock Washburn's policy committee, said the firm wishes Wolfsohn and Goranin well and that partner Daniel J. Goettle has taken over as the firm's new litigation chair.