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Chadbourne's head of intellectual property (IP) Eric Lobenfeld and partners Drew Wintringham and Ira Schaefer are all jumping ship. They claim that as many as five of their associates plan to join them.
All three specialise in IP, and Lobenfeld does complex commercial cases as well. He represents clients on anti-trust, patent, securities, trademark, copyright and unfair competition litigation.
The move is a coup for CCR&W. The team brings with it a raft of high-profile clients, including Tyco, Walt Disney Corporation, Symbol Technologies, Rockwell International and Siemens. Lobenfeld says the bulk of those clients will move with the team.
CCR&W's regional head of IP for the Americas Leora Ben-Ami says: "This will enable us to broaden our client base in a number of ways and it adds significant depth in areas such as electrical engineering and e-commerce."
Lobenfeld adds: "Clifford Chance is a much bigger and better platform for us in terms of just servicing the clients that we have. It has great resources and enables us to do IP on an international level in one firm.
"Clifford Chance in New York has a very significant IP practice, so we'll be able to use the resources here in New York on the matters that we have and attract new work."
One of Lobenfeld's most recent high-profile cases was representing Acushnet, which makes Titleist golf balls, in an unfair competition lawsuit against Nike for its use of Titleist spokesman Tiger Woods in Nike Golf commercials.
CCR&W already acts for Siemens and Tyco on more general kinds of litigation, so the link-up will boost those relationships.
The additions bring the number of partners in Clifford Chance's IP group to 13, with 140 lawyers in all. Sixty of those are based in the US, and the practice extends into London and Europe, including Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Milan and Barcelona.
The litigation practice at Chadbourne boasts 100 lawyers in total, and the firm has offices in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Moscow and London. These departures represent the bulk of the firm's IP practice worldwide.
Chadbourne operations partner Charles O'Neill confirms that the firm is looking for replacements.