July 30, 2021

Two IP boutiques divorce after merger, will fight in court

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Merger-Holman-HershkovitzBy Katelyn Polantz, From Legal Times

Less than a year after two Washington-area patent firms failed to become one, both sides are throwing accusations at the other.

Jacobson Holman, a D.C. intellectual property boutique that merged last year with Hershkovitz & Associates, a small patent-prosecution agency, says it was stiffed out of more than $300,000, according to a lawsuit the firm filed in D.C. Superior Court on Feb. 19. But the patent agency’s owner says that’s wrong, that the law boutique owes him money, and that he’s planning a countersuit.

“If mergers are like marriages, then de-mergers are like divorces. Few divorces go amicably, then people are out to get whatever they can from the other side,” said Abe Hershkovitz, a nonlawyer who started his company about 11 years ago.

Lawyers Harvey Jacobson Jr. and John Holman wanted to merge their 46-year-old firm with Alexandria, Virginia-based Hershkovitz & Associates last July, the civil complaint said. They planned to call the firm Jacobson Holman Hershkovitz and agreed to a six-month trial period for the merger.

Hershkovitz said Wednesday, after learning about the lawsuit, that he initially was worried about how the merger would work. He feared losing power in the transaction, he said. When the three equity partners came together, he felt outnumbered by Jacobson and Holman, as if his company had been acquired rather than merged.

The merger didn’t work out. By December, Jacobson Holman’s 12 lawyers had split away from Hershkovitz, according to a court filing.

During that time frame, Hershkovitz collected at least $158,510.36 from clients, Jacobson Holman alleges. But the Virginia agency never turned over the money to the combined firm, the complaint said.

Hershkovitz also never gave capital funds to the firm, the complaint said. Jacobson Holman fronted $180,000 to pay for Hershkovitz’s clients’ patent office expenses and the payroll of its employees, the law firm said.

But Hershkovitz countered that the amount Jacobson Holman owes his company is even higher than that.

“They’re refusing to give an accounting. They’re not even responding to emails that I sent them,” Hershkovitz said.

Hershkovitz and his 11-person company, Hershkovitz & Associates, are named as defendants in the suit. Since the firms broke up, Hershkovitz said his group has suffered financially. Three support staffers have left, he added.

“It’s really unfortunate that instead of both sides investing their energy and helping their clients, we will now be wasting our resources in fighting each other,” Hershkovitz said. “Ultimately, there will never be a winner.”

A lawyer at Jacobson Holman who is representing the firm in its suit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

IMAGE: Credit: johnnyscriv/iStockphoto.com


For more on this story go to: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/legaltimes/id=1202718917695/Two-IP-Boutiques-Divorce-After-Merger-Will-Fight-in-Court#ixzz3SquuJkHf

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