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September 1, 2011 7:45 PM

Quinn Emanuel Opens D.C. Office to Be Closer to ITC

Posted by Sara Randazzo

There is no opening date on the calendar, or even a location to open, but Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan knows it needs an office in Washington, D.C., and hired a trio of Alston & Bird partners in the city to get the ball rolling.

The litigation firm announced Thursday that Alston partners Paul Brinkman, Alex Lasher, and Alan Whitehurst will anchor an office in D.C. to serve, at least initially, one purpose--handling intellectual property matters before the International Trade Commission. Jon Corey, a longtime partner in Quinn's Los Angeles office, will relocate to manage the new operation.

The ITC has become a popular venue for patent litigation since a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it harder to secure an injunction against patent infringers. Quinn Emanuel's share of ITC cases has peaked in the past few years, says Charles Verhoeven, head of the firm's intellectual property group, to the point where "it started becoming a no-brainer to pursue an office [in D.C.]." The firm tried its first major case there in the mid-2000s, for Seiko Epson, which brought patent infringement actions against two dozen manufacturers, importers, and distributors of printer ink cartridges--and won.

A few years later, the firm successfully defended Nokia in a suit brought by Qualcomm over patents related to 3G mobile devices. Since then, Quinn Emanuel has taken on ITC work for several clients embroiled in patent litigation over smartphone technology, including Google and its Android partners HTC, Motorola, and Samsung.

Thomas Miller, lead intellectual property counsel at Motorala, hadn't heard the news yet Thursday but says that with all the litigation the company faces in D.C., "any of our firms that support that jurisdiction is a positive."

It was the Qualcomm case that introduced Verhoeven to Brinkman, who, along with a team of Alston partners, served as cocounsel to Nokia. The two met again last year in another smartphone battle at the ITC, this time pitting Apple against Alston's client Nokia and Quinn's client HTC. Nokia settled with Apple in June, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in payouts, while a judge ruled the next month that HTC did infringe on Apple's patents.

Brinkman says he was approached just weeks ago by Verhoeven and name partner William Urquhart, and talks advanced quickly after that. He gave notice to Alston on Thursday, and says his start date at Quinn is still unclear since they've haven't signed a lease just yet.

The new hires all focus on intellectual property litigation, with Brinkman and Lasher particularly specialized in Section 337 actions before the ITC. Corey, who doesn't do ITC work, says his initial recruiting plans are solely focused on intellectual property attorneys, but if the right situation came along in a different practice group, he'd consider it. Whenever the office opens, "It’s not going to be a four-person office for very long," Birkman said.

The office will be Quinn's ninth worldwide and sixth in the United States. According to The American Lawyer's annual Am Law 100 survey, Quinn equity partners earned an average of $3.6 million last year, making them the second-highest paid partners among those surveyed.

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