Righthaven CEO’s law firm in merger

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Steven Gibson

Detroit law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC has expanded to Las Vegas by combining with Las Vegas firm Gibson Lowry Burris LLP.

"The addition of a Las Vegas office not only expands our firm’s national footprint, specifically in the western portion of the country, but it adds depth, experience and additional clients to our successful, growing intellectual property and gaming practice areas, which is consistent with the firm’s strategic growth plans," Dickinson Wright Chief Executive William Burgess said in a statement Monday.

Gibson Lowry Burris LLP attorneys joining Dickinson Wright are Steven Gibson, Jodi Donetta Lowry and J. Scott Burris, the statement said.

Gibson will be the managing partner of Dickinson Wright's Las Vegas office.

Dickinson Wright says it has more than 260 attorneys practicing in more than 40 specialty areas. Besides the Las Vegas office, it has offices in Michigan, Nashville, Phoenix, Toronto and Washington, D.C.

Gibson is also the CEO of Righthaven LLC, a Las Vegas firm that attracted national attention this year when it filed copyright infringement lawsuits against 100 website operators and bloggers who had allegedly displayed material from the Las Vegas Review-Journal without authorization.

The lawsuits, generally filed without warning, were a departure from the usual practice in the newspaper industry of asking or demanding that infringing material be removed and replaced with links before resorting to litigation.

Gibson and Righthaven say the lawsuits are necessary to deter copyright infringement, protect newspaper industry revenue and generate revenue for Righthaven.

But some defense attorneys call Righthaven's initiative a legal shakedown aimed at coercing settlements from generally mom and pop-type websites and "barratry," or the persistent incitement of litigation -- charges denied by Righthaven.

Righthaven's initiative has been covered by the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, wired.com, law.com, the American Bar Association's ABA Journal, the Reason Foundation's reason.org, the Boston Herald, the Concord Monitor and by numerous media and legal blogs.

Joff Wild of Intellectual Asset Management magazine commented July 25 on the Righthaven business plan: "Find as many alleged infringers of your rights as possible, issue a writ (lawsuit) and then demand a settlement fee to make it go away. The settlement fee will often seem more attractive than having to fork out money to defend an action -- even if you think it may have no real basis in law. And if you have no knowledge of legal concepts such as fair use, and you know that you have posted copyright material without permission, then you may well bite off the hand of someone offering you a settlement rather than a court case."

"... what this will also do, though, is to make IP (intellectual property law) an even dirtier concept for many people. Free access to information is considered something of a right online. Legal moves that are seen as seeking to deny this will always raise hackles," Wild added.