5 notable GCs in the news

General counsel sound off on cross-licensing agreements, career advancement and more

“As an industry pioneer in smartphones with a strong patent portfolio, HTC is pleased to come to this agreement, which will enable us to stay focused on innovation for consumers.”

 - Grace Lei, general counsel of HTC

 

Cross-licensing has become all the rage in technology circles recently, most notably with Google, Samsung and Cisco completing a trio of deals that has the three companies cross-licensing patents for the next 10 years. Not to be outdone, however, technology giants HTC and Nokia agreed to a cross-licensing deal of their own, hoping to join forces to increase their own respective market shares. Through the terms of the deal, all pending IP litigation between the companies is considered settled. In addition, according to a release, HTC will make payments to Nokia and will grant it access to its portfolio of LTE patents.

 Golf


 “We needed to do something that was exceptional. You can go to a lot of great places in Florida. We needed to do exceptional, not just great.”

 - Rich Mack, general counsel of Mosaic

 

Let’s play a game. Say you’re on the board at Mosaic, one of the world’s largest phosphate companies. Once one of your mines runs dry in the 1960s, you’re suddenly left with 15 million cubic yards of sand. Do you simply let it become your own personal desert? Or, do you do as Mosaic did, and make a resort with a modern hotel, two award-winning golf courses, and a spa? The Record of Central Florida explored the property, which has become an unlikely source of pride for the company since opening in late 2012. Mack, an avid golfer himself, says that golf course gurus were initially skeptical that the company would be able to pull off its goals. “They expected Central Florida to be relatively flat,” he said.

Wi-Fi 

 

"I’m proud that we stepped up for our customers. But, that expenditure would not have been necessary if Innovatio had met its obligations to license on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, and had come to Cisco seeking a reasonable license first rather than targeting our customers and those of other manufacturers.”

 - Mark Chandler, general counsel of Cisco

 

Patent trolling may be on the rise, but so too are the number of technology companies willing to fight back against them. One of the most notable names in this fight is Innovatio IP Ventures, which purchased old Broadcom patents related to Wi-Fi technology, then went on the offensive with multiple IP infringement suits against companies that used Wi-Fi technology. One of those suits was against Cisco, but despite Cisco officials claiming that Innovatio originally request $4 billion to settle, the two sides eventually settled the case for $2.7 million. That figure amounts to just 3.2 cents per Cisco wireless device, which Chandler called a “victory” for customers.

Gun

 

“We don’t have many folks there. For us to supplant those people, it doesn’t make much sense.”

- Kevin Reid, general counsel of Ruger

 

As supply chain management remains a top of mind risk for many in-house legal teams and C-suites, a natural progression leads leaders to wonder whether a company’s manufacturing is located in the most efficient place. For gun-maker Ruger, efficiency means holding manufacturing locations in gun-friendly areas such as Prescott, Ariz., Newport, N.H., and Mayodan, N.C. However, Reid says he doesn’t see the company headquarters in Southport, Conn., going away any time soon. Even though manufacturing is based in gun-friendly areas of the country, the business side does not necessarily have to be.

Career advancement

 

 “I don’t think people always should necessarily aspire to be a GC—there are strengths and weaknesses to all positions—but if that’s your goal, you should have a realistic eye around whether the business and people around you are going to wind up making that happen.”

 - Janet Langford Kelly, general counsel of ConocoPhillips

 

In nearly 20 years in-house, including jobs at the top of the legal ladder with Sara Lee Corp., the Kellogg Company, and ConocoPhillips, Janet Langford Kelly has seen her fair share of in-house attorneys rise through the ranks. She doesn’t believe that everyone wants to rise up to her top level, but if you do, she says, make sure that you’re someone that people want to help. “The most valuable lesson I learned outside is how to manage relationships where you’re not in charge,” Kelly said in the February issue of InsideCounsel magazine. “It helps to be a collegial person that people want to help. If you call at 10 p.m., people are more likely to pick up the phone for someone they like.”

Assistant Editor

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Zach Warren

Zach Warren is Assistant Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he oversees online content submissions and administers InsideCounsel's enewsletters. Zach specializes in new media and multimedia...

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