Google’s Motorola deal is good news for Quinn Emanuel

August 15, 2011

There are all sorts of questions out there about Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility. What will the deal mean for HTC and Samsung, the other cellphone makers using the Android platform? Will the merger force Microsoft to make a bid for Nokia? And is Carl Icahn, Motorola’s biggest shareholder, finally satisfied? I’ll leave it to others to ruminate on all that. I’m interested, as always, in what this deal means for lawyers.

The one clear answer is that a union between Google and Motorola is a good thing for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

Quinn’s Charlie Verhoeven and his patent litigation team are favorites of both Google and Motorola in the smartphone wars. With Google’s endorsement, Quinn has been representing both Samsung and HTC in high-stakes litigation against Apple; Quinn got those assignments after amassing an impressive collection of patent trial wins for Google in the Eastern District of Texas. (Even Verhoeven and Google can’t win ’em all; I reported in May on a $5 million verdict against Google in the Bedrock patent trial.)

There’s been speculation that Google brought Quinn into the HTC and Samsung cases under an Android indemnification agreement. Google and its partners have never confirmed that any such deal exists. If there is an indemnity arrangement, that might explain why Quinn Emanuel is representing Motorola in smartphone litigation with Apple and Microsoft. (When Google recently filed a non-party motion for sanctions against Microsoft in Microsoft’s U.S. International Trade Commission case against Motorola, Quinn Emanuel signed the Google pleading — even though Quinn also represents Motorola in the case, along with Steptoe & Johnson.)

But Quinn Emanuel’s relationship with Motorola extends beyond Motorola’s smartphone litigation. The firm stepped into a vicious trade secrets fight between Motorola and a Florida company after Motorola was twice sanctioned for discovery violations. The $10 billion case ended up settling for less than $50 million.

Also worth pointing out whenever we’re talking about Google: one of the two most recent appointees to the Federal Trade Commission, Edith Ramirez, was previously an IP partner at Quinn Emanuel. Last October, in a speech before the Golden State Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Institute, Ramirez spoke of her first FTC review: Google’s proposed merger with AdMob, the rival smartphone advertising network. Even though the deal meant the combination of two of the biggest players in a rapidly expanding market, Ramirez voted with her fellow commissioners to permit the merger, partly because Apple was developing its own mobile ad network.

I reached out to John Quinn and Charles Verhoeven, but neither responded to my e-mail.


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