San Francisco's Gray Cary has nudged aside Baker Botts to gain instruction on the Cirrus Logic lawsuit that stopped the flotation of Wolfson Microelectronics in its tracks.
The initial public offering (IPO) of Edinburgh's Wolfson on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the company at more than £213m, was due to take place last week, making it the first major technology float of the year.
However, Wolfson, advised by Hale and Dorr, saw its plans delayed by the Cirrus Logic suit, which alleges patent infringement on a number of the semiconductor company's designs.
Gray Cary's Texas office won the job for Cirrus Logic after recruiting intellectual property (IP) and IT litigation partner Alan Albright from local firm Thompson & Knight in March 2001.
Thompson & Knight first encountered Cirrus Logic in 1999 following a lawsuit involving the company's subsidiary Crystal Semiconductor, advised by the now defunct Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, and Texas semiconductor group SigmaTel.
However, since SigmaTel was already a Brobeck client, a federal judge disqualified Brobeck from representing Crystal. As a result, Thompson & Knight was brought in to act for Cirrus Logic on its next piece of work.
Aside from historical links, the departure of Cirrus Logic's general counsel Steve Overly six months ago also facilitated the new client win for Gray Cary.
The general counsel is believed to have favoured Baker Botts' Scott Partridge, chair of the IP/IT practice in Houston and co-chair of the group in Washington, and specialist partner Roger Fulghum.
Baker Botts represented Cirrus on settling patent disputes with NVIDIA Corporation and ATI Technologies.
Wolfson's contact partner at Hale and Dorr, Richard Eaton, shrugged off the high-profile suit but it has caused the company to postpone its IPO while it redrafts the prospectus.
"It's perfectly normal in the semiconductor industry for companies with lots of patents to sue each other. It is just part of doing business in this industry," said Eaton.