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Bloomberg Business Week is running a story on what it claims is the world's second biggest NPE (the first being Intellectual Ventures). It focuses on John Desmarais, until recently a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, and now the name and founding partner of Desmarais LLP. This is a new firm he has formed specifically to defend, at first anyway, the IP rights of NPE Round Rock Research LLC, an NPE Desmarais established after buying a portfolio of 4,500 patents from client Micron Technology Inc.
Although this is not the first time a big-hitting patent litigator has set him or herself up as an NPE operation, it is the first time I can remember anyone speaking so openly about it. Time will tell whether it is a good idea or not, but a clever defence lawyer may be able to throw some of Desmarais's words back at him in a courtroom, given the opportunity. “We’re not taking the approach of having ridiculous demands and assuming there will be litigation ... I think our approach will be a lot more reasonable,” Desmarais tells Bloomberg. But that's what all litigation-focused NPEs say, isn't it?
Although the article says Desmarais bought those 4,500 patents from Micron, I can't help thinking that there is more to it than that. I know good US patent litigators are rich, but if the portfolio is going to have any legs, it will have cost a pretty hefty amount. Micron surely retains a sizeable stake in its future exploitation, or Desmarais has got some decent backing from elsewhere.
Licensing, IP litigation, Patents