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When Lawyers Become 'Trolls'

Publication Date: 
January 23, 2012
The Wall Street Journal
Ashby Jones

Professor Mark Lemley commented on the divergence within the patent law industry in the following article by Ashby Jones of the Wall Street Journal.

Big change is afoot in the world of patent law, and nothing illustrates that better than recent moves by John Desmarais and Matt Powers.

As recently as three years ago, the two lawyers were among a small group of elite attorneys used by U.S. companies to defend their patents in courtrooms.

Mr. Desmarais was a lawyer for such companies as International Business Machines Corp., GlaxoSmithKline PLC,Boston Scientific Corp., Alcatel-Lucent SA and Verizon Wireless. The clients of Mr. Powers included Cisco SystemsInc., Merck & Co., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., and Apple Inc.


Such divisiveness is why some industry experts say the practice of patent law is going the way of others, such as employment and securities, in which lawyers represent either defendants or plaintiffs, but not both. "Twenty years ago, patent law was not one of those practices in which, as a lawyer, you had to choose your side," says Mark Lemley, a patent lawyer and law professor at Stanford University. "But more and more, if you're repping trolls, corporate defendants don't want to have anything to do with you."