Former Microsoft Chief Patent Counsel Bart Eppenauer is joining Shook, Hardy & Bacon as a partner and will oversee the opening of a Seattle office for the firm. The office will open on December 1, 2013, and Eppenauer will serve as its managing partner.
Eppenauer has served as chief patent counsel at Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash., since 2003. In that role, he led the Patent Group in the Legal and Corporate Affairs Department, where he developed Microsoft’s patent portfolio of over 35,000 issued patents worldwide and managed a team of more than 100 patent professionals offering patent counseling and product development support across all of Microsoft’s business and research divisions. With extensive experience in complex, multilateral IP transactions and license agreements, Eppenauer has also worked closely with government and judicial officials, academics, and industry leaders worldwide on IP policy issues, in addition to participating in the recent passage of major U.S. patent reform legislation.
Under Eppenauer’s guidance, Microsoft’s high-quality patent portfolio contributed to an extremely successful IP licensing program and received top rankings in IEEE Spectrum, BusinessWeek and The Patent Board.
It is a full-circle move of sorts for Eppenauer, who was an associate for three years in Shook’s Intellectual Property Practice, before leaving to join Microsoft’s legal team in 1997.
“We are extremely excited to be opening a Seattle office and to have Bart rejoining the firm,” said Shook Chair John Murphy. “Bart’s legal and business experience is unparalleled and this was a truly unique opportunity for us to open an office in a region in which we already have a substantial footprint from a practice standpoint.”
Shook is among Microsoft’s “premier provider” firms for legal services and serves a number of other clients in the Pacific Northwest. Staffed to meet the challenges of this fast-paced area of law, the firm’s Intellectual Property group includes 58 attorneys – 42 of whom are registered to practice before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The legal teams are supported by 12 patent agents and analysts, seven of whom hold doctorates in their areas of specialty.
“I have worked closely with Shook’s Intellectual Property group for more than a decade in my role at Microsoft and I am very pleased to be rejoining them,” said Eppenauer. “Shook is a standout, forward-looking firm in terms of delivering creative, efficient and highly effective legal services to their clients. They are an extremely talented and deep group of professionals both in IP and technology litigation, and patent counseling, prosecution and portfolio management, with unparalleled expertise in legal and technical IP analysis. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to open and lead a Seattle office for Shook and contribute to expanding the firm’s IP capabilities.”
The Seattle office will be Shook’s ninth in the United States and eleventh worldwide. Murphy emphasized the fit with Shook’s overarching strategic plan.
“It will be a smaller office at the outset, but offer the highest quality in terms of experience and service to our clients,” Murphy said. “That has been a successful blueprint throughout the history of our firm. Growth for growth’s sake has never been what we’ve looked for. We carefully measure these opportunities and they have to be good for the firm and, above all, good for our clients. This was a slam dunk.”
Eppenauer received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1987, and earned his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1990. He is admitted to practice before the state courts of Washington, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois, and is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.