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John Phillips

Fish & Richardson attorney leads San Diego's largest IP practice

As managing principal of the San Diego office of Fish & Richardson, John Phillips spends much of his time positioning the firm for growth.

That means long-range strategic planning and shoring up an attorney corps depleted by the June 2006 defection of the firm's then-managing principal to the new San Diego office of Mintz Levin. Phillips, who took over the top job in July 2006, said the office now has 60 attorneys, thanks to great success recruiting associates from top law schools and lateral principles from competing firms.

"San Diego used to be a sleepy community," Phillips said. San Diego's growing biotech and wireless industry, combined with the influx of national law firms to serve them, means new recruits to the firm enjoy a large, national law firm practice and the lifestyle that comes from living in sunny, low-key Southern California.

When he's not busy leading the largest intellectual property firm in San Diego, Phillips provides general client counseling and patent prosecution with an emphasis on Internet-related technologies, software, communications systems and electronics. His practice experience includes e-commerce applications, enterprise software systems, computer graphics, electronic imaging, user-interfaces, electronic messaging, medical device technology, digital rights protection, database technology and computer networking.

Phillips is also a recognized leader in the area of patent re-examination, ranked among the top IP lawyers by The Legal 500, an independent guidebook of legal services based on surveys of thousands of commercial clients. The Legal 500's latest guidebook reports that Phillips submits most of the firm's patent re-examination applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is significant when you consider that the guidebook ranks Fish & Richardson No. 1 in the field. Earlier this year, he was also listed in "The Southern California Super Lawyers."

Phillips said his clients are mostly Fortune 10 and Fortune 50 companies, but he also represents startups and midsized businesses. Phillips' local clients include A-Life Medical, Cardionet, Cricket Communications, Mad Catz and Trex Enterprises.

Phillips first joined Fish & Richardson in 1994, but left in 2000 to become general counsel for Navlet.com. He returned to the firm in 2001. Phillips was previously an associate and law clerk with Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, a staff electrical engineer at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory and a research and development engineer with Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Phillips was valedictorian of the 1992 graduating class of George Washington University Law School, and earned a bachelor's in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Hockmuth is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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