Press Release

Morrison & Foerster LLP Adds 15 Attorneys to Its Growing San Diego Office

6/1/2000

Morrison & Foerster announced today that it has added 15 new attorneys to its San Diego office.  Included in this group are two partners, two of counsels, and 11 associates.  Partners, David C. Doyle and Craig I. Celniker and Of Counsel, Michael W. Vella, join from Baker & McKenzie's San Diego office; Of Counsel Laurie A. Axford joined last month from Foley & Lardner in San Diego.  The remaining attorneys come to the firm from the San Diego offices of Baker & McKenzie and Luce, Forward, Hamilton, & Scripps.  Since the beginning of the year, Morrison has added 22 attorneys to its San Diego office.

 "We are very excited about being able to grow so rapidly in the core areas of our business plan," said Mark Danis, Managing Partner for Morrison & Foerster in San Diego.  "Our San Diego office has quickly emerged as a fully staffed provider of the legal services critical to our technology clients." 

"David and Craig bring to our clients invaluable experience in the high stakes area of intellectual property litigation," noted Michael Jacobs, Co-Chair of the firm's Intellectual Property Practice Group.  "Our San Diego office now has a tightly integrated group of corporate finance, IP, patent, litigation and employment law practitioners.  The North County region is a vibrant center of activity in biotech, Internet, telecom and other high-tech industries, and we are thrilled with our progress in establishing Morrison & Foerster as a leading presence in this marketplace."

David C. Doyle specializes in patent litigation and licensing disputes.  He has extensive experience in all areas of intellectual property and licensing litigation for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, telecommunication and other technology companies.  Mr. Doyle recently obtained a summary judgment in a $20 million licensing case on behalf of one of the San Diego's leading biotechnology companies.  Mr. Doyle, recognized as one of San Diego's leading intellectual property attorneys by San Diego Magazine, is active in the local legal and business communities.  In recent years he has been active at UCSD, serving on the Executive Committee of Connect and Executive Committee of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.  Mr. Doyle received his JD degree from University of California, Los Angeles in 1976, where he was Order of the Coif and a member of the UCLA Law Review.  Most recently, Mr. Doyle was a partner with the San Diego office of Baker & McKenzie. 

Craig I. Celniker has extensive international commercial litigation and transactional experience, with particular emphasis on intellectual property issues.  He has represented both international and domestic companies before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and has participated in the litigation and arbitration of patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret cases in the internet, pharmaceutical, food and electronics industries.  He currently obtained one of the county's largest verdicts in a biotech trade secrets trial, $12.4 million.  In addition, Mr. Celniker has negotiated and drafted development, licensing, manufacturing and supply agreements in those same industries, involving proprietary technology, trademark, copyright and patent issues.  He received his JD degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1990, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and a member of the Columbia-VLA Journal of Law and the Arts, Columbia's Intellectual Property Law Journal.   Most recently, Mr. Celniker was a partner in Baker & McKenzie's San Diego office. 

Laurie A. Axford handles a broad range of legal issues concerning the biotechnology industry, with a particular emphasis on intellectual property.  Her current focus includes strategic management of complex patent portfolios, as well as assisting start-up companies in establishing their initial patent protection.  Ms. Axford represents companies in many different fields, such as diagnostics, therapeutics and medical devices.  She received her M.S. degree in Molecular Biology in 1983 from San Diego State University and received her JD degree from Thomas Jefferson University School of Law in 1992.  Ms. Axford began her legal career as Patent Counsel at Molecular Biosystems, Inc., where she established and administered an in-house intellectual property program, then moved into private practice in 1995.  Most recently, Ms. Axford was a partner at Foley & Lardner, where she established their intellectual property practice group in San Diego. 

Michael W. Vella has broad experience in intellectual property litigation with an emphasis on trademark counterfeiting and Internet issues.  He has represented high technology companies in connection with trademark, copyright and patent infringement litigation in federal courts throughout the country.  Mr. Vella received his JD degree from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1990.  Most recently, he was a senior associate at the San Diego office of Baker & McKenzie.

Associates Joining Morrison & Foerster from Baker & McKenzie in San Diego

Steven E. Comer practices in the areas of copyright, trademark, and trade secret litigation.  He received his JD degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1991, where he was Managing Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review.

Brett D. Ekins focuses primarily in copyright and trademark litigation in the software/interface industry.  He received his JD degree from New York University School of Law in 1997. 

Charles S. Evendorff specializes in representing clients in international intellectual property related lawsuits relating to the internet.  Mr. Evendorff also has experience in international arbitration.  He received his JD degree from UCLA School of Law in 1996, where he was Executive Editor of the UCLA Law Review.

Kenji L. Funahashi represents high-tech and emerging growth companies, in venture capital financings, public and private offerings, public company reporting and counseling, and licensing.  He received his JD and MBA degrees from University of Wisconsin in 1997.

Robert M. Harkins Jr. practices intellectual property and general commercial litigation relating to the internet.  He also has extensive experience in securities litigation.  He received his JD degree from U.C. Davis School of Law in 1995, where he was Senior Articles Editor of the U.C. Davis International Law Journal.

Helen S. Irza handles intellectual property litigation focusing primarily in copyright, trademark, and trade secret litigation.  She received her JD degree from University of San Diego 1997, where she was a member of the San Diego Law Review, and graduated Order of the Coif.

Richard C. Kim is a registered patent attorney and has extensive experience in intellectual property law, including patent and trademark prosecution and litigation, specializing in both high tech and consumer goods industries.  He received his EE from UC San Diego in 1990 and JD degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1995.

Joseph W. Secondine represents high-tech and emerging growth companies, including venture capital financings, public and private offerings, public company reporting and counseling and intellectual property licensing.  Mr. Secondine received his JD degree from Stanford Law School in 1996.

Michael J. Shea, specializes in corporate and mergers and acquisitions work within the biotechnology, software, and Internet industries.  He received his JD degree form Harvard Law School in 1995. 

Mark Andrew "Drew" Woodmansee specializes in intellectual property litigation focusing primarily in copyright, and trademark litigation for Internet-related companies.  He received his JD degree from Notre Dame Law School 1996.

George C. Yu is a registered patent attorney whose focus includes both patent litigation and prosecution, primarily in the biotechnology industry.  He received his Masters degree in Biochemistry from Stanford University in 1994, and his JD degree from UCLA School of Law 1997, where he was Articles Editor for the UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal. 

Joining from Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps

Rick Bergstrom is a labor and employment law attorney and has significant experience in all areas of employment law and regularly counsels clients on a variety of topics.  Mr. Bergstrom has litigated employment cases in both federal and state court and before various administrative agencies.  He received his JD degree, cum laude, from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1993, where he was the California Supreme Court Survey Editor for the Pepperdine Law Review.

Other recent additions to Morrison & Foerster's San Diego office

Peng Chen, formerly of Heller Erhman White & McAuliffe in San Diego, is a patent prosecutor in biotechnology field.  He received his JD degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1997, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.  He was a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Immunobiology Section of Yale University School of Medicine in 1994, and received his Ph.D. in Biochemical, Cellular & Molecular Biology from John Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1993.

Paul Friedman joined the firm last month from Arnold & Porter in Washington, DC.   He received his JD degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1998.  Mr. Friedman's practice encompasses all manner of civil actions, including transportation, products liability, and commercial litigation.

Juli Oh, a corporate and licensing associate, continues the practice she began at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Grubman Indursky & Schindler in New York.  She received her JD degree, cum laude, from Georgetown University in 1995.  Ms. Oh's practice focuses on corporate and licensing work for Internet, new media, and start-up companies.

Kurt Springmann moved to the firm's San Diego office after spending two years in the San Francisco office.  He specializes in intellectual property litigation and counseling, particularly in the areas of patent and Internet law.  Dr. Springmann received his MD degree from the University of Arizona in 1984 and his JD degree from the Arizona State University School of Law in 1998.  He is also admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Opened in October of last year, the San Diego office follows in the firm's strong tradition of intellectual property representation.  The office, located in Carmel Valley, focuses on full range of services to technology companies, including patent prosecution, technology licensing, litigation, and corporate finance.  The firm complements experience gained in counseling high-technology companies in many industries with nationally renowned expertise in biotechnology and Internet companies.

Morrison & Foerster is one of the largest international law firms with more than 850 lawyers in 17 offices worldwide. 

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