Pedram Sameni
May 9, 2024

Patent Insight 4: Top Patent Attorney Lateral Moves in 2023

In the dynamic legal industry, lateral moves emerge as important events that shape the landscape of firms and the careers of individual attorneys. Nowhere is this phenomenon more pronounced than in the specialized field of patent law, where expertise and experience are highly sought after commodities. Each lateral move represents not just a shift in employment but often a strategic maneuver to leverage unique skills, seize new opportunities, or a response to evolving market dynamics.

Patexia’s Patent Intelligence Report is our yearly endeavor aimed at offering insights on multiple levels, illuminating the patent law sector. This report analyzes patent statistics related to patent applications filed, published, and decided within the past five years, from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2023. Additionally, this report series provides evaluations and rankings of the top 2,000 most active companies, law firms, and attorneys. Today’s insight reveals the top lateral moves made by leading patent attorneys, shedding light on the transitions between old and new law firms for each attorney. Through this analysis, we aim to uncover which law firms have expanded their practice by attracting top talent in the field of patent law.

During the period of our study, a total of 1,882,495 patents were issued while 1,990,642 applications were published. To gain comprehensive insights into patenting trends, it's essential to analyze both patent application filings and issued patents. Given that the USPTO typically publishes applications approximately 18 months after they are filed, published applications serve as a proxy for patent filing activity within a specific timeframe. In 2023, the USPTO published a total of 365,822 patent applications. This figure reflects a downward trend, declining at an average rate of 4.12% annually over the past five years, with a 3.15% decrease observed in 2023. Notably, 2019 marked the peak year for published applications, reaching 433,675 filings, while 2023 recorded the lowest figure. Similarly, the number of issued patents has witnessed a downward trend, decreasing at an average rate of 3.11% annually over the past five years. In 2023, there was a 3.32% decline in issued patents compared to the previous year. The peak year for issued patents was 2019, recording the highest number at 395,456, whereas 2023 saw the lowest count at 348,114.

Further analysis into the specific drivers behind the observed declines in both patent application filings and issued patents is required to provide more insights into the broader innovation ecosystem. Our full Patent Intelligence Report goes further in its analysis by examining patent types, technology centers, high-tech versus biotech, foreign versus domestic filings, and more. Furthermore, we have developed and refined our ranking methodology over the years based on feedback from our IP community. This methodology enables us to evaluate and rank attorneys, law firms, and companies according to their activity and performance across a range of metrics.

Moreover, while ranking the top most active attorneys, our analysis examines the recent lateral moves made by patent attorneys, conducting a thorough review of those made between Q1 of 2023 and Q1 of 2024 using current and previous reports' data. To ensure relevance and usefulness, we focused on the 2,000 most active attorneys and identified those who transitioned to a new firm or established their own firm during this period. The review revealed a total of 64 lateral moves. Below is a table of the top ten lateral moves made by patent attorneys: 


Attorney Current Firm Old Firm Activity Rank Patents
Maki Saitoh Sughrue Mion Oliff 14 2,865
Mark R. Kresloff Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner Dentons 124 1,010
Yong S. Choi Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner Dentons 200 779
Alan M. Weisberg Weisberg I.P. Law, P.A. Christopher & Weisberg 249 706
Jacques L. Etkowicz Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC RatnerPrestia 279 653
Justin D. Swindells Ice Miller LLP Nixon Peabody 375 487
Bao Q. Tran PatentPC Tran & Associates 389 432
Robert Patrick Lord Lathrop GPM LLP FBFK 405 577
Avery N. Goldstein MaxGo Law PLLC

Blue Filament Law

423 387
Stuart Herman Mayer Kaplan Breyer Schwarz, LLP Mayer & Williams 437 415


To facilitate easy access to this information, we have included a table in the Excel document accompanying the Patent Intelligence Report, listing all the attorneys who made such moves, along with details about their current and previous firms, as well as the total number of patents associated with each attorney. Using the lateral moves data, we identified the law firms that experienced the most significant growth through lateral moves by patent attorneys. A couple of observations: 

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner emerged as the firm that experienced the most growth in the past year with leading patent attorneys. The addition of IP partner Song Jung and a team of five partners from Dentons in June 2023, marks a significant strengthening of their global patent prosecution capabilities. Notably, five of these attorneys were highly ranked among the most active patent attorneys.
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and RatnerPrestia announced their merger in November 2023, bringing 22 lawyers and 2 patent agents to Buchanan's intellectual property section across Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Washington, DC. This move increases the firm's IP resources by 65%, strengthening its presence in the Mid-Atlantic region. Among these attorneys, three were ranked among the top patent attorneys in our report.
Sughrue Mion has recently expanded with the addition of two attorneys from Oliff. This law firm specializes exclusively in intellectual property law, encompassing patent prosecution as well as litigation of IP disputes in different venues. They have an established presence in U.S. District Courts, as well as before bodies such as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).
Williams Mullen was joined by two other attorneys from Oliff strengthening their presence in Virginia. Last year, they also merged also with the Virginia-based business firm KVCF PLC, adding ten attorneys and expanding its presence in Virginia Beach and Richmond.
DLA Piper also expanded its team with a group of six partners, 24 lawyers, patent agents, technical advisors, and professional staffers, who joined from Dentons. Among them, two partners are highly active in patent prosecution and are prominently featured in our report.
Sarah B. Foley left Barta Jones & Foley in 2023 to embark on a new venture, and founded Foley IP Law, PLLC. Joining her in this endeavor was Landon E. Wiebusch, who is also prominently featured in our patent attorney rankings. This boutique law firm, headquartered in Dallas, specializes in providing comprehensive intellectual property protection services.

The full Patent Intelligence Report also offers another perspective on how law firms adapt and evolve in the competitive landscape. In addition to tracking lateral moves, the report features lists of top 50 patent law firms and companies, shedding light on those that experienced the most notable growth or decline based on the number of patents issued in 2023 compared to 2022.

Stay tuned, as in the following weeks, we will unveil some of the top-tier patent attorneys and law firms showcased in our report.