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June 26, 2011 7:40 PM

Top Patent Litigator Leaving Weil to Launch Plaintiffs-Side Firm

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Matthew_PowersBlog Matthew Powers, cochair of litigation at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, is leaving the firm after 18 years to start his own plaintiffs shop, sibling publication The Recorder reported Friday (subscription required). News of the split, which Powers and Weil described as friendly, came the same day as the announcement that two other patent litigators, including a patent litigation group cochair, had left Weil for Paul Weiss.

According to the Recorder, Powers's new firm, Tensegrity, "will focus on handline straightforward plaintiffs work on a contingency basis." Joining him in the new endeavor, the Recorder reports, will be another Weil veteran, litigation partner Steven Cherensky.

(A Wikipedia entry says that Buckminster Fuller coined the "tensegrity" as a contraction of tensional integrity and that "tensegrity structures are structures based on the combination of a few simple but subtle and deep design patterns.")

"I'm as excited about working as I've been in a long time," Powers told the Recorder when reached by phone at the annual Federal Circuit Bar Association's Bench and Bar Conference in Florida. He said the move was motivated by a desire to "go in a different direction that you can't do in the context of a large general practice firm."

The Recorder suggested that, over time, Powers could wind up following a trail blazed by former Kirkland & Ellis patent litigator John Desmarais, who has launched both his own law firm, Desmarais LLP, and a substantial patent-holding company, Round Rock Research. (This story from The American Lawyer's spring 2011 Intellectual Property supplement details Desmarais's new endeavors.)

Weil executive partner Barry Wolf said in a statement to the Recorder that the firm is "fully supportive of Matt's decision to leave Weil and start a new plaintiffs venture and we wish him well." The Recorder reported that Powers's departure was effective Friday and that he will work out of an office provided by Weil for six months.

The jump to plaintiffs-side work is a significant one for Powers, who left Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in 1993 to launch Weil's Silicon Valley patent litigation practice. His Weil bio lists such major tech industry clients as Apple, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, and Samsung--all of whom have regularly been hit with infringement suits by the kind of patent-holding companies that will presumably provide the foundation for Powers's new firm.

Among the more notable matters Powers has handled recently is his representation of Microsoft at trial and on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in an infringement suit brought against the software giant by Canadian software maker i4i Inc. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a $290 million verdict against Microsoft in the case.

News of Powers's departure came the same day that The Am Law Daily reported that Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison had hired Weil patent litigators Nicholas Groombridge, a New York–based cochair of Weil's patent litigation group, and David Ball, who is based in Washington, D.C.

In an interview with The Am Law Daily Friday, Groombridge described the pair's move as "a pull, not a push" and "an opportunity to take what is already a very high-quality presence Paul Weiss has in the patent area and to expand it over the next two to three years."

In a subsequent interview after the announcement of Powers's departure from Weil, Groombridge said his own decision to leave the firm "didn't have anything to do with Matt." As for Powers, Groombridge said that he thought that "Matt’s kind of looking for a new challenge."

Powers and Groombridge were part of a team that helped Weil's IP practice qualify as a finalist in The American Lawyer's 2010 IP Litigation Department of the Year contest.

 

Nate Raymond contributed additional reporting.

 

 

 

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My wish is that Mr. Powers is treated the way he treats others. It would be an eye opener for him.

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