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February 2, 2009 4:05 PM

Core of Keker & Van Nest IP Group Exits to Launch Own Firm

Posted by Ed Shanahan

The San Francisco litigation boutique of Keker & Van Nest is best known for two practices: criminal defense, which is the bailiwick of ex-Marine name partner John Keker; and intellectual property, in which the firm has long represented such blue-chip clients as Google and Comcast.

As of Monday, our colleague Alison Frankel reports, Keker's 60-lawyer firm had better hope for a big boom in white-collar crime prosecution. That's because the core of its IP group, including star partner Daralyn Durie and academic bigwig Mark Lemley, announced that they are breaking off to launch their own six-lawyer firm, Durie Tangri Lemley Roberts & Kent.

Lemley tells Frankel that there are no hard feelings between the new firm and Keker & Van Nest: "We were interested in doing something entrepreneurial, working with a smaller group, possibly figuring out alternative ways to practice high-end litigation and make it more efficient."

Keker & Van Nest's managing partner, Christopher Kearney, says his firm still has a powerhouse IP department, with name partners Keker and Robert Van Nest among the trial lawyers with extensive IP experience. "We're going to continue being a go-to firm in high-stakes IP matters," he tells Frankel.

Lemley says the new firm's lawyers have already received assurances of continuing work from such clients as Google, Genentech, Comcast, and Ticketmaster, although, he adds, "they'll continue sending work to Keker as well." Kearney confirms that Keker & Van Nest IP clients--including Google, Intel, and Genentech--"absolutely" told his firm that they will use Keker & Van Nest.


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