White & Case LLP
What were some of the challenges that you faced in founding and building White & Case’s global technology transactions practice?
In the early days, the biggest challenge was convincing firm leaders and clients that technology transactions should be a recognised practice sitting between traditional IP and M&A practices. A core group of us realised that there was a need for lawyers who could handle IP-focused product and litigation counselling and conduct transactions ranging from licensing to M&A deals. The efficiency of having a lawyer who can deal with a client’s transactions and address complex IP and technology issues is what separates this type of practice from others. I am very proud of what our team has accomplished over the past 20 years. It has also been great to see this practice area grow across the industry.
You have worked with some of the most prominent Silicon Valley tech companies. How do you stay ahead of the curve in such a dynamic market?
We have been very fortunate to help a number of innovators around the world, not just here in Silicon Valley. To stay current, you need to be curious, read a lot, meet with technologists and be willing to invest the time to learn how technologies work. Being in Silicon Valley is extremely helpful. You then need to be able to predict – based on prior experience – how the law will react to handle new technologies.
Which of the cases that you have worked on have been the most memorable and why?
I have worked on so many different projects over the years, it is hard to choose. Doing M&A work for Intel was memorable because it is one of the original Silicon Valley companies. Helping Facebook bring its Portal product to market was interesting because of the different technologies involved. More recently, we assisted Square architect the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance. That project, which involved patent pledges and complex licensing, was very exciting because of its importance to the fintech community and the patent law issues involved. Representing Slack in connection with its relationship with Amazon Web Services for cloud computing infrastructure also stands out.
How have client demands changed over the course of your career, and how has your practice adapted to this?
Technology has made us all available 24/7. This allows us as advisers to be extremely responsive, but it can also be disruptive at times. Time management is therefore critical for modern lawyers. Over the years, we have used a variety of technologies to help us review and analyse documents, as well as draft agreements, more efficiently. A lot of the decision making that we do as lawyers lends itself to technology solutions and work that is similar to what software designers do.
As more and more industries are affected by technological convergence, what considerations should US patent owners bear in mind when assessing their existing IP strategies?
Convergence will offer more opportunities. Innovators need to constantly consider where their technology can be deployed both in horizontal and vertical markets. Their technology may have much more significant application in other industries. Similarly, it may have more of an impact further down or higher up in various supply and distribution chains. We are seeing these considerations more and more where clients are focused on protecting their technology in their primary market, but then additional use cases are discovered. This can allow for further monetisation of an IP portfolio. These additional revenue streams could be extremely valuable. Companies will value diversity of thought and experiences from their business development professionals and advisers to help identify these opportunities. With increasing convergence and competition, disputes and litigation are also more likely.
Daren Orzechowski is a leading partner in White & Case LLP’s global technology transactions practice. He regularly counsels clients in connection with M&A and IP strategy and licensing matters. For almost two decades, Mr Orzechowski has represented clients from a variety of industries in connection with their most important strategic IP, data and technology-focused transactions. He has handled matters relating to a wide variety of technologies, providing him with a broad perspective that lends insight to emerging technologies.