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Kirkland Nabs 4 Kaye Scholer Pharma, Life Science Attys

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has added to its New York office a quartet of Kaye Scholer LLP intellectual property attorneys who specialize in representing pharmaceutical makers and biotechnology companies, the firm announced Wednesday.

Patent litigator Leora Ben-Ami — who was previously co-chair of Kaye Scholer's intellectual property practice — joined Kirkland along with Thomas Fleming, Patricia Carson and Christopher Jagoe, Kirkland said.

Jeffrey C. Hammes, chairman of Kirkland's global management executive committee, said in a statement that the newest partners had reputations as some of the finest litigators in biotechnology, life sciences and pharmaceutical IP.

"They are a perfect match for Kirkland, which has a premier IP practice and represents many of the largest pharmaceutical and health care companies in the world, and we enthusiastically welcome them to the firm," Hammes said.

Ben-Ami and her team focus on patent litigation, representing a number of high-profile clients including Pfizer Inc., Genentech Inc. and DuPont Co., according to the firm.

Most recently, Ben-Ami represented Genentech and Pfizer in a suit against Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. that attempted to block the company's bid to launch a generic version of the lung cancer drug Tarceva. Earlier this month, a Delaware federal judge struck down Mylan's arguments that the two patents covering the drug were invalid because they were obvious based on prior patented formulations.

Ben-Ami is also currently lead counsel for DuPont., defending it from claims brought by Monsanto Co. that DuPont and its subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. infringed a Monsanto-patented gene used to protect soybean and corn seeds from Roundup, Monsanto's proprietary herbicide.

The litigator is also acting as lead counsel in a suit filed in April against Dupont's affiliate Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC. Gevo Inc. sued Butamax for patent infringement in Delaware over technology and processes for producing isobutanol fuel.

Ben-Ami said Kirkland was a perfect fit for her team, which has been working with each other for a number of years.

"Kirkland's existing IP practice, which is consistently recognized as one of the best for high-stakes IP litigation, is a strong fit for our practice," Ben-Ami said, adding that she was looking forward to working closely with her new partners at Kirkland.

Also joining Ben-Ami at Kirkland are three additional intellectual property partners.

Fleming focuses his intellectual properties litigation practice on cases relating to biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and chemical products. He has represented DuPont, Genentech and Sunbeam Products Inc. in the Federal Circuit.

Carson counsels clients on patent matters, including due diligence and licensing. She also acted as lead counsel for Pfizer in its patent infringement suit against Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. over the manufacturer's plans to launch a generic version of Rapamune, a drug used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients.

Jagoe, the final member of the team, has a strong scientific background, holding several senior scientific positions in the pharmaceutical industry prior to entering private practice. Jagoe has represented several drug companies including Roche Holding AG and Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc.

"We are thrilled that this team of top tier IP litigators, who have had some of the largest and most significant verdicts in the pharmaceutical and life sciences area, have joined Kirkland, and we look forward to working side by side with them," Kirkland partner Greg Arovas said.