Boutique Targets Video Game Industry

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Boutique Targets Video Game Industry

October 21, 2013

by Nathalie Pierrepont

After a year of rapid growth, Goldberg, Lowenstein & Weatherwax wants to become a player in the video game industry.

The boutique firm, founded by three Irell & Manella alums in February 2012, is launching a video game law practice group with 18 attorneys, including two of the firm's founding partners, Nathan Lowenstein and Kenneth Weatherwax. Both have represented video game companies in the past. The majority of the team will be based in the Los Angeles office because "a lot of [the video game companies] are just down the block, within shouting distance," said Lowenstein.

Over the last year the firm has been building a team with expertise in the video game industry as well as experience in patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret litigation, according to Lowenstein, who was a patent litigator at Irell for six years. With of counsel Betsy Rosenblatt, who teaches a video game seminar at Whittier Law School, and of counsel Robert Brain, co-author of the only casebook in the country on video game law, on board, GLW aims to be a thought leader in video game law.

"One of the things that appeals to me about this industry is that it hasn't been tapped," Lowenstein said. "I'd say this is the first concerted effort to build a rather large [video game law practice group], and in that regard, I don't know if there are a lot of competitors in the space."

However, recruiter Larry Watanabe pointed to a long list of firms that have been active in the video game market for years, including Loeb & Loeb; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor; Cooley; and Gunderson Dettmer. In 2008, Shepperd Mullin Richter & Hampton launched its practice, which featured a second-year associate who was the firm's resident expert on the games. The competition is no surprise considering that the global video game market reached $58 billion in 2013, according to Reuters.

Lowenstein said GLW attorneys "speak the language of the industry," while other firms are run by partners "in their 60s who think of this as "kids' stuff."

Like other lawyers who've left larger law firms to start boutiques, Lowenstein says GLW can charge lower rates and share risk and upside with clients. Since last year, the firm has opened satellite offices in Palo Alto and San Diego, added 32 attorneys as well as five "technical consultants," academics and professors who enable the firm to "hit the ground running on incredibly complicated cases," said Lowenstein. Tanya Acker, who has provided legal analysis on TV news programs like "Larry King Live" and "Anderson Cooper 360" and Katherine Huang, former partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, joined the firm as of counsel last month.