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US IP specialists Merchant & Gould and Welsh & Katz are set to merge, creating a 160-lawyer firm with six offices.
The firms announced last week (26 October) that they have agreed in principle to combine from 1 January 2006.
Merchant chief executive Randall King said discussions with Welsh had taken a year. He said the firm had been looking at opportunities in Chicago for "some time".
Merchant brings 110 IP lawyers to the mix, based across its offices in Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle and Washington DC. Clients include Microsoft and 3M. Chicago firm Welsh has a number of entertainment clients such as Time Warner in addition to a roster of technology companies.
The new firm will operate as Merchant Gould Welsh & Katz. It plans to expand into California, Florida and Texas and to grow its lawyer count to 200.