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Patent Deals Bring Antitrust Attorneys To The Table

Publication Date: 
May 01, 2012
Source: 
Corporate Counsel
Author: 
Amy Miller

Professor Mark Lemley is interviewed by Amy Miller of Corporate Counsel on the role that patents have played in redirecting the focus of antitrust issues on the tech industry.

With patent portfolios fetching millions of dollars these days, a new player has arrived on the patent acquisition scene: the antitrust attorney.

No stranger to the pains of fighting drawn-out antitrust battles, Microsoft Corp. hired competition lawyers from two law firms when it sold a chunk of AOL's patent portfolio to Facebook Inc. this past week for just over half a billion dollars.

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"Antitrust issues have focused regulators' attention on the tech industry in a way they never have before, and patents are a big reason for that," said Mark Lemley, director of Stanford's Program in Law, Science and Technology, and a patent attorney at Durie Tangri.

Lawyers in the patent world now have to grapple with antitrust issues much like M&A attorneys, Lemley said. There were the usual IP and corporate lawyers advising both sides on Microsoft's patent sale to Facebook.