Legal Business Blogs

£58.11 per sq ft: Bird & Bird loses major patent litigator as it commits to £8.3m annual rent bill

Mark Heaney, who heads Bird & Bird’s highly regarded electronics sector group, is leaving for US firm Baker Botts at the end of the year.

Heaney, who started at DLA Piper before being offered partnership in Bird & Bird’s intellectual property group in 2000, has resigned from the firm and will depart at the end of 2014. A handover process is currently in place.

He will become the fourteenth Baker Botts partner in London, which, like its practice in the US, is heavily focused on the energy and gas sector.

A patent litigator by trade, Heaney has been involved in big ticket electronics disputes including Alcatel v Marconi, Halliburton v Smith International and Storage Computer v Hitachi. Heaney successfully defended Microsoft last year after Motorola claimed the software giant had infringed a patent for email synchronisation technology. The England & Wales Court of Appeal found the patent invalid on the ground of obviousness.

He is also the second major patent litigator to leave Bird & Bird for a US firm in the last 18 months, with the firm’s co-head of life sciences Trevor Cook having departed for Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

The tech-centric firm recently committed to a pre-let that will see it pay £8.28m a year to lease 12/14 New Fetter Lane. The agreement, which weighs in at £58.11 per sq ft, makes the annual cost of the property worth 38% of Bird & Bird’s current leasehold expenditure globally. In 2013/14 the firm paid £21.5m in rent.

Last year, CMS Cameron McKenna agreed a move to cannon place for £42 per sq ft and one managing partner said that Bird & Bird’s deal ‘seems a little high’.

A spokesperson for Bird & Bird said: ‘We have not decided on the outcome of our other three buildings in London but have flexible terms in place whereby we can assess growth levels at a later date.’