Today, Joe Siino, the former head of IP at Yahoo, resurfaced with his own IP asset management biz called Ovidian. The Berkeley firm, which at this point includes Siino and Berkeley IP law professor Rob Merges, will manage patent portfolios for companies, advise IP investors, consult on building IP legal departments, and, get this, develop and buy patents for itself.
See here and here, for other examples of patent lawyers leaving the comfy confines of law firms for the wild west of patent businesses. But first follow the jump to see how MoFo figures in this latest scheme.
Ovidian will also be working with Morrison & Foerster. The two won’t share revenue, but will work together with clients, Siino said. Will it be an issue for MoFo’s clients that Ovidian will be “creating and developing” its own patents? (Remember the problems Fish & Richardson’s Scott Harris ran into when his patents got used against a firm client?) Siino said there won’t be any issue there: “The IP we’re developing — it doesn’t conflict in any way with Morrison’s clients.”
Siino wouldn’t say what kind of patents Ovidian is working on, but said the firm wouldn’t be engaging in “any adversarial licensing programs.”
Siino has long been on the forefront of the patent scene in Silicon Valley. He headed Brobeck’s IP strategy and technology transactions group before the firm collapsed. He went on to found Inflexion Point Strategy — another IP consulting shop — with Ron Laurie. And in 2005, he was hired by Yahoo to build the company’s IP group. He left in December in what Yahoo GC Mike Callahan in February called “a mutual decision that it was the right time for Joe to pursue other opportunities.” Siino said today “I had accomplished everything that I had set out to accomplish — Mike and I came to a mutual decision.”
Siino said he’s spent the last five months getting ready for the launch of Ovidian, which is named after ancient Roman poet Ovid. The connection to IP? Ovid was a lawyer-turned-poet who’s most famous work was The Metamorphoses, Siino explained, and the field of IP is right now going through its own transformation.
Siino has been lauded for his ability to build (See: Brobeck, Yahoo IP group, Inflexion Point) but has been criticized for leaving his projects a few years after starting them. Siino said he’s in it for the long haul with his new project.
“I’m committed to building this for the long term — I always build for the long term, but sometimes external organizations don’t survive the long term, like Brobeck,” he said. “That’s part of the reason I wanted to build this entity: I can build it on a solid foundation.”
— Zusha Elinson