Interviews December 9, 2013

L.A. Law: IP Partner Jon Gordon

Jonathan Gordon is a Los Angeles partner who focuses his practice on transactions involving technology and intellectual property.

Silicon Valley gets much of the spotlight when it comes to technology in California, but our LA Intellectual Property practice has been growing steadily over the years; is there much of an IP industry in LA? Is it really Silicon Valley vs. Silicon Beach?

There is a great deal going on here in greater Los Angeles in the IP and technology world. We have world-class research institutions like Caltech, USC, UCLA and others that help fuel the emerging technologies business here. The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has one of busiest dockets anywhere for intellectual property litigation. And now, yes, we have the technology, content and innovation ecosystem we call Silicon Beach. Robust startups that would have surely been located in Silicon Valley years ago are now making LA, Santa Monica, Venice and Pasadena their homes, not to mention very substantial offces of Google, YouTube, Amazon, Yahoo, etc., in Silicon Beach. There are numerous startup “accelerators” for entrepreneurs and inventors throughout the area who are coming up with new software, mobile apps, digital media and content delivery models, etc. Finally, the private space industry (and a smaller iteration of the once huge aerospace industry) are also based in the LA region. And then there are those movie studios and TV productions that have always been here, known for producing an occasional bit of intellectual property and wanting to protect it. And it’s really not Silicon Beach versus Silicon Valley. Rather, there is quite a bit going on between Northern and Southern California. Silicon Valley venture firms are investing down here and vice versa, and both emerging companies and Internet Age giants are collaborating and locating in both regions.

Compared to 10 or 15 years ago, how has your practice changed? Where are you spending the majority of your time?

My practice has evolved pretty dramatically since the dot com and telecommunications boom of the very late 90s. Back then, most of the startups were based in Silicon Valley and planned to move rapidly toward an initial public offering (IPO). Many were crushed in the bust that followed the boom. Back then, a great deal of my IP practice involved disputes and litigation. Now, with all the activity in and around LA, my practice is almost entirely centered around IP and technology deals. These include technology transfer deals for the commercialization of inventions coming from our research institutions, advising startups on the creation and protection of their IP portfolios, and handling deals for the sale, acquisition and licensing of IP, including patents, copyrights, trade secrets, data, etc. The market for intellectual property transactions is ever growing and more fluid and companies are getting more adept at extracting value from their IP. Finally, many technology-based companies are being acquired by Fortune 100 type companies and we find more emerging companies interested in this kind of liquidity event than in IPO’s.

Technology transfer seems to fit… cartooning not as clear. Exactly what is your connection to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum?

Other than being born in Boston, I’m not really connected to the JFK Library. However, I do now represent the estate of the famous editorial cartoonist and author, Bill Mauldin, who I represented while he was alive. We handle all of the licensing and reproduction matters for his large body of work generated from WWII into the 1990s. Recently, in connection with the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination (November 22, 1963), the JFK Library contacted me for permission to release copies of the image drawn by Bill Mauldin on the day of the assassination—the original will be displayed at the JFK Library where it has been since Bill Mauldin gifted it to Jacqueline Kennedy. As you can see, it is a very compelling image of the grieving Lincoln statue, and it was published and syndicated around the world on that sad day.

Final question… Mammoth or Tahoe?

That’s a tough one. For skiing, I think I favor Mammoth, which is easily reached by car from LA by driving up along the Eastern Sierras. Mammoth is a huge mountain with lots of variety (my skier son and my boarding son are both happy there) and the ability to handle a lot people. But for summer vacations, I am definitely a Lake Tahoe guy. We have enjoyed family trips up there for about 15 summers in a row. I can’t really think of anywhere I’d rather be in August.

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