Law Firms

Howrey Conflict Alleged

A company that owns several patents is seeking to disqualify Howrey from representing a defendant it sued for infringement.

San Francisco company Friskit Inc. says in a May 25 motion that it met with lawyers from Howrey’s East Palo Alto, Calif., office in January to discuss hiring the firm to represent it in the litigation, according to the Recorder.

Days later Howrey declined the representation, saying it was hiring the former deputy general counsel from the defendant, RealNetworks. The lawyer, David Stewart, later announced he would represent RealNetworks in the dispute over patents for the playing of audio and video content.

The motion contends Howrey learned confidential strategic information about the suit, filed in California’s Northern District, in the January meeting. Howrey, with 15 offices in the United States and Europe, focuses on intellectual property, antitrust and global litigation.

Disqualification motions are being becoming more frequent in IP litigation, law professor William Gallagher of Golden Gate University School of Law told the legal newspaper. “It happens so much that there is some feeling among the IP bar that it’s being used as a strategic tool,” he said.

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