Steve Jobs loads up on high-powered legal team to protect Apple’s intellectual property

Apple Online Store“Steve Jobs doesn’t skimp on lawyers,” Zusha Elinson reports for Law.com. “Apple Inc. just added another big, expensive name to the growing list of lawyers engaged in the company’s latest round of patent wars.”

“Matthew Powers, head of litigation at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Redwood City, filed a countersuit for Apple against Kodak last week,” Elinson reports. “In its dispute with Nokia, Apple has already hired Boston’s William Lee, co-managing partner of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. And in its patent offensive against HTC Corp.’s Google phones, Apple is using Kirkland & Ellis top patent lawyer Robert Krupka, from Los Angeles.”

“Although Powers and Lee have suffered some notable defeats at trial in Texas in recent years, they are seen as the cream of the country’s patent bar,” Elinson reports. “All three of the firms are ranked No. 1 in IP litigation by Chambers. And all three partners have billing rates close to $1,000 an hour, according to people familiar with those rates.”

“Their assignments aren’t the typical disputes. Apple faces dozens of patent infringement lawsuits, but many of them are filed by patent trolls willing to settle for the cost of litigation,” Elinson reports. “In contrast, the cases against Nokia, Kodak and HTC are fights with real companies that all want a piece of the smart-phone market.”

Full article here.

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  1. $1,000 an hour doesn’t get you one guy. It gets you a whole team of people.

    I don’t mind Apple spending a lot on defending it’s patents.

    They have been burned so badly in the past.

  2. Lawyer expenses are awful but in this case Apple has to protect its innovation. Doubt any company in history has had so many copycats swarming the bandwagon.

  3. I’m pretty sure the $1000 rate is per person. If you’re a partner at a top firm, all that experience is worth something. You’re paying to borrow all that valuable gold in his brain.

  4. Yes and no, $1000/hr. rate. Though these top attorneys negoiate their rates with each client and can vary, $1K/hour is probably per partner, and will include the associates that work directly under the partner. If that partner feels like bringing in another partner on the case, it’ll be an additional rate charge, either negotiated with Apple or rolled into the 1st chair’s rate.

  5. This shows another aspect of how failure has made Apple and Jobs stronger and so much wiser.

    After Microsoft stole Apple’s GUI ideas in the 90s and almost killed Apple, Jobs has learned to protect the crown jewels with as much legal artillery as you can buy.

    I suspect Apple’s new internal motto is: Innovate & Protect

  6. I work in-house in a Fortune 500 legal department, and have hired Kirkland & Ellis in the past. The top partners at the firm make more than $1,000/hour. That’s only the billing partner. There’s an entire army of junior partners, associates and paralegals involved in these cases. You only bring in that kind of fire power when there’s a lot at stake.

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