EBay IP head moves to GlaxoSmithKline

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has poached eBay’s lead IP counsel Jo Grist to fill its head of trademarks position.

While the internet company has flown in a new head of IP from its US team, it still has no general counsel.

Francine Lyle, an IP litigator from eBay’s US legal team, has flown in to take over Grist’s IP role in the UK permanently.

Shell’s head of trademarks Georgy Evans started the chain of in-house IP moves when she left GlaxoSmith-Kline to join the energy company in March.

Grist’s move marks eBay’s second in-house departure this year after UK legal chief Robert Miller left to become general counsel at internet communications company Skype Technologies in February.

eBay acquired Luxembourg-based Skype in September 2005 for $2.6bn (£1.39bn), with Clifford Chance and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom taking the lead roles on the transaction.

The company has yet to hire a successor to Miller despite combing the market for the four months since he departed. In-house lawyer Paul Drake is serving as acting legal director while the hunt continues.

Drake leads an in-house team of six lawyers and uses Olswang as his main outside counsel. Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Kemp Little and Taylor Wessing also pick up some of eBay’s work.

As an IP litigator in the US, Lyle is no stranger to top-level litigation. In mid-May, eBay won a favourable Supreme Court decision in its patent dispute with MercExchange. The landmark judgment affirmed that US courts should not apply permanent injunctions automatically as relief in patent disputes.