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About Our Software Practice

Fenwick & West is deeply entwined with the history and growth of the software industry and remains one of the most active and sought after law firms in the nation by both emerging and leading software companies.

As an industry pioneer, we negotiated one of the first software license agreements with then 19-year old Bill Gates.  We also created the first “shrinkwrap” license agreement in 1976 and created the first software “clean room” protocols which later became the industry standard. We have also created additional financing, tax, copyright, patent, trademark and trade secret protocols that have helped our software clients grow into some of the largest companies in the world.

Today, we continue to represent software companies at all stages of development, from entrepreneurs to public corporations, as well as the industry’s leading investors and underwriters. Our full range of legal services, include:

With more than four decades of experience, it’s no surprise that software leaders and emerging innovators continue to choose Fenwick to help them build value and retain ownership over their products.

Why Software Companies Choose Fenwick

We are deeply entrenched in the venture community

Fenwick has deep and long-standing relationships with the most active venture capitalists focused on the software industry. We know better than almost any other law firm how the venture community works – everything from which investors are specifically interested in your technology and stage of growth, to when it makes sense to remain independent or pursue and IPO or merger. We can also provide you with guidance on business model issues, fundraising strategy and development of quality investor materials suitable for meaningful evaluation.

We have deep experience helping our clients protect and maximize the value of their intellectual property

For more than forty years our attorneys have diligently worked to enforce and defend the intellectual property rights of software companies. Software companies of all sizes rely on us for advice and representation in all areas of intellectual property, including patent, licensing, copyright, trademark, and trade secret.

We have a proven record of representing software companies in IP litigation cases

We have handled some of the earliest watershed software intellectual infringement battles, including Lotus v. Borland;  A&M v. Napster; Adobe v. Macromedia and Brown Bag Software v. Symantec. We were named a “Go-To” law firm for litigation by The American Lawyer and are one of the top-dozen firms that Fortune 400 companies rely on for IP litigation and counseling, according to IP Worldwide

We handle a high volume of mergers & acquisitions for software companies

We have one of the most active and highly ranked M&A practices in the nation and have represented software companies in over 200 buy-side or sell-side acquisitions. We have acted as counsel in many of the most important software mergers, including Macromedia’s $3.4 billion merger with Adobe Systems; VERITAS’ $3.4 billion acquisition of Seagate Software; Opsware’s $1.6 billion acquisition by Hewlett-Packard;  MySQL’s $1billion acquisition by Sun Microsystems; and Intuit’s $1.35 billion acquisition of Digital Insight.

We are one of the first law firms in the world to address Open Source issues

As a Silicon Valley-based firm with a significant market share of software companies, we were one of the first law firms in the world to confront Open Source issues. Nearly four decades later, our attorneys have acquired vast experience in guiding clients of all sizes—from Open Source start-ups to Fortune 500 companies—on navigating the complex issues of Open Source and IP ownership.

What You Can Expect With Fenwick on Your Team

A group of top legal, technical and scientific minds that understands your business

Many of our attorneys have backgrounds in programming, computer science, electrical engineering or business that enables us to provide software companies with practical and sound representation. This combined legal and technical expertise means we will provide you with advice that is efficient, relevant and in consideration of your unique business environment.

A collaborative and integrated approach to service

Our culture promotes cross-practice collaboration, so whether your needs involve mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, litigation, tax, licensing, antitrust or benefits, our attorneys are committed to working together to make available to you all the necessary resources to address any legal issue.

Access to our extensive network of investors

We offer a systemized approach to connecting our software clients with the appropriate investors based on stage of development, technology and amount/stage of investment. We represent privately-funded software companies at all stages of development, from those seeking seed or angel financing to more established companies seeking late-stage funding.

A strategic partner to help you protect your intellectual property at every stage of development

Fenwick has been working with rapidly growing companies at the forefront of innovation for more than four decades and we will work diligently to enforce and defend all of your intellectual property rights.

An unwavering commitment to service

At Fenwick, we pride ourselves on delivering best-in-class legal services in a highly efficient and effective manner to companies of all sizes. Continually ranked as one of the top U.S. law firms for client service, we have numerous mechanisms for receiving and acting on client feedback to improve client service. Whether you are an industry leader or an emerging company, you deserve—and will receive—the same attention to detail, efficiency, cost-containment and personal attention for which we have become known.