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For more than four decades, Fenwick & West LLP has helped some of the world’s most recognized companies become, and remain, market leaders. From emerging enterprises to large public corporations, our clients are leaders in the technology, life sciences and cleantech sectors and are fundamentally changing the world through rapid innovation.  MORE >

Fenwick & West was founded in 1972 in the heart of Silicon Valley—before “Silicon Valley” existed—by four visionary lawyers who left a top-tier New York law firm to pursue their shared belief that technology would revolutionize the business world and to pioneer the legal work for those technological innovations. In order to be most effective, they decided they needed to move to a location close to primary research and technology development. These four attorneys opened their first office in downtown Palo Alto, and Fenwick became one of the first technology law firms in the world.  MORE >

From our founding in 1972, Fenwick has been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion both within our firm and throughout the legal profession. For almost four decades, the firm has actively promoted an open and inclusive work environment and committed significant resources towards improving our diversity efforts at every level.  MORE >

At Fenwick, we are proud of our commitment to the community and to our culture of making a difference in the lives of individuals and organizations in the communities where we live and work. We recognize that providing legal services is not only an essential part of our professional responsibility, but also an excellent opportunity for our attorneys to gain valuable practical experience, learn new areas of the law and contribute to the community.  MORE >

Year after year, Fenwick & West is honored for excellence in the legal profession. Many of our attorneys are recognized as leaders in their respective fields, and our Corporate, Tax, Litigation and Intellectual Property Practice Groups consistently receive top national and international rankings, including:

  • Named Technology Group of the Year by Law360
  • Ranked #1 in the Americas for number of technology deals in 2015 by Mergermarket
  • Nearly 20 percent of Fenwick partners are ranked by Chambers
  • Consistently ranked among the top 10 law firms in the U.S. for diversity
  • Recognized as having top mentoring and pro bono programs by Euromoney

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We take sustainability very seriously at Fenwick. Like many of our clients, we are adopting policies that reduce consumption and waste, and improve efficiency. By using technologies developed by a number of our cleantech clients, we are at the forefront of implementing sustainable policies and practices that minimize environmental impact. In fact, Fenwick has earned recognition in several areas as one of the top US law firms for implementing sustainable business practices.  MORE >

At Fenwick, we have a passion for excellence and innovation that mirrors our client base. Our firm is making revolutionary changes to the practice of law through substantial investments in proprietary technology tools and processes—allowing us to deliver best-in-class legal services more effectively.   MORE >

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Patent Pools in a 4G World

August 05, 2009

Robert Sachs, a partner in Intellectual Property Group at Fenwick & West LLP, was recently quoted in a Digital Media Buzz article titled "Trolling For Patents in a 4G World."

With wireless technologies continuing to grow, including 4G, the telecommunications industry is dealing with competing standards when it comes to patent infrastructures, causing considerable confusion and uncertainty. Patents are the building blocks for the standards that define technologies like WiMax or LTE. These IP standards tell companies what technologies they can or cannot use, how and where they can be used, and how much that technology will cost in terms of royalties paid to the patent holder.

When it's a relatively homogenous industry with a limited number of companies who hold the necessary patents, the process can be fairly straightforward. But that's not always the case. "The time it takes to negotiate these licenses is often critical. It can take months—even up to a year—for these patent licenses to be negotiated," says Sachs. "That is critical in time-to-market."

The fault can also be laid at the feet of the standard's authors. "Some standards are written without a clear understanding of how technology in the standard would be licensed into the marketplace," Sachs adds.

One alternative to chasing down licenses one-by-one is to participate in a patent pool. "Patent pools contribute in a number of ways beyond the initial 'We make it a one-stop shop,'" says Fenwick & West's Sachs. And as more and more companies jump on board, the network effect kicks in, further growing the market. 'They have feedback effects,' Sachs says. 'That's the Zeitgeist that propels the pools. Particularly as we move toward more standardized platforms in consumer electronic devices, this becomes more and more compelling.'"

However, participating in a patent pool doesn't eliminate the need for due diligence. "You don't have a guarantee going into a pool that you have all the rights you need," Sachs says. "Joining a pool doesn't give you absolute clearance, but it gives you some assurance. The more licensors who join the pool, the more likely it is that the universe is complete."

Are trolls a big problem? "For those who have been sued by NPEs, it's a big issue," Sachs says. "If you’ve been bitten by a shark, then sharks are scary things."