US IP specialists Merchant & Gould and Welsh & Katz are set to merge, creating a 160-lawyer firm with six offices.

The two firms announced today (26 October) that they have agreed in principle to join up from 1 January 2006.

Merchant & Gould brings 110 IP lawyers to the mix, based across its offices in Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle and Washington DC. Chicago firm Welsh & Katz has a number of entertainment clients in addition to a roster of technology companies.

The combined firm is planning to expand into California, Texas and Florida and grow its numbers to 200 lawyers.