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N.Y. IP Boutique Desmarais to Open in San Francisco

John Desmarais,


Desmarais LLP is moving west.

The IP litigation boutique founded in 2010 by John Desmarais will open a San Francisco office this December. The 57-lawyer firm has negotiated a lease at 101 California St. and will start by relocating a few attorneys from its New York home base. John Desmarais took the California bar exam last February and will split his time between the two offices, he said this week.

Desmarais identified two primary reasons for the expansion. The first is Silicon Valley clients such as Apple Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Intel Corp. “It just makes sense to be closer to them,” he said.

Second is recruiting. “All of the talent coming out of Stanford and Berkeley, it’s so strong,” he said. Often those graduates “like to stay in the area.”

Desmarais was a Kirkland & Ellis litigator before establishing Desmarais and the patent holding company Round Rock Research. The firm has asserted patents on behalf of large owners—it recently won an $82.5 million jury verdict for IBM against Groupon (subsequently settled for $57 million). The firm also regularly defends big tech companies accused of patent infringement.

Desmarais is known for eschewing the billable hour in favor of flat, monthly fees tailored to the matter. The firm also pays associates $20,000 above the big New York law firm scale. Desmarais has focused mostly on high tech cases, but this week announced the addition of two life sciences partners from Sidley Austin.