Akin Gump hires top energy regulatory lawyers from Patton Boggs

November 4, 2012

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, one of Washington’s largest law and lobby firms, has hired three top energy attorneys — including a former commissioner for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — from lobbying giant Patton Boggs.

Former FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly, who co-chaired Patton Boggs’ energy industry practice since April 2010, will co-chair the energy regulatory group at Akin Gump with Julia Sullivan.

Joining Kelly are partner George “Chip” Cannon, Jr., and senior counsel Cynthia Marlette, former general counsel of FERC. Kelly recruited both Cannon and Marlette to Patton Boggs shortly after joining the firm in 2010.

“I anticipate doing much of the same things I did at Patton Boggs, only having a broader platform,” Kelly said. “Akin historically has had a staple of energy clients and they need energy regulatory assistance. Being able to provide that and not have the clients have to go to another law firm to get that kind of legal work done is appealing.”

Kelly said her clients, which include electric utilities, Smart Grid companies and gas distributors, also have legal needs beyond energy regulatory work — such as project finance and transactional work — that Akin Gump has a deep bench of lawyers to handle.

“The synergies that exist both for my clients and for Akin’s clients are significant,” she said.

Kelly served three terms as a FERC commissioner under President Obama and former president George W. Bush, and is credited with pushing for changes in regulatory policies including integrating renewables into the transmission grid, and deploying Smart Grid technologies and natural gas quality standards. She created a Smart Grid Collaborative to promote information-sharing between federal and state utilities regulators about best practices and technologies.

Patton Boggs and Akin Gump rank first and second atop the city’s most profitable lobby shops, reporting $34.6 million and $23.3 million in lobbying revenue, respectively, at the end of the third quarter. Akin Gump, which about 260 attorneys in Washington, recently named partner Kim Koopersmith as the firm’s first female chair.

Rosetta Stone and Google reach settlement

Rosetta Stone, the Arlington language software maker, has agreed to drop a three year-long lawsuit against Google that accused the search giant of illegally selling Rosetta Stone trademarks to third-party advertisers that linked to sites selling counterfeit software.

The two companies reached a settlement Wednesday. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

As part of the agreement, the companies will work together with law enforcement to combat online ads for counterfeit goods and prevent the abuse of trademarks on the Internet.

“At the end of the day, both companies would rather cooperate than litigate, and we believe this agreement is an important step toward eliminating piracy and trademark abuse on the Internet,” Rosetta Stone and Google said in a joint statement.

The case was closely watched by the business community — with 33 major corporations, trade associations and professional sports leagues lining up on Rosetta Stone’s side — because it was seen as a test case for whether Google could be held liable for the actions of third-party advertisers.

“This settlement is a significant victory for consumer protection, and it goes a long way toward advancing our goal to strengthen the Rosetta Stone brand and trademarks around the world,” said Rosetta Stone General Counsel Michael Wu. “Being able to enlist Google in our ongoing fight against online piracy and counterfeiting is an important step in achieving our goal.”

Rosetta Stone sued Google in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2009, accusing the search site of selling trademarked phrases like “Rosetta Stone” and “language library” to third-party companies that make copycat software. The Google advertising program, AdWords, allows third parties to buy keywords that generate sponsored links when someone types the phrases in an online search. In some cases, those links took consumers to Web sites selling copycat software, misleading them to think those products were genuine Rosetta Stone software, the lawsuit alleged.

The suit was dismissed in 2010. But last April, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the case, opening the door for other companies to sue Google over similar claims. The resolution of Rosetta Stone’s lawsuit does not preclude other companies from bringing similar claims against Google.

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for the Capital Business section of The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.
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