Former co-chair of Knobbe Martens’ Patent Office Litigation practice group Michelle Armond has left the firm to open a new boutique along with Texas-based IP trial attorney Doug Wilson.

The firm, Armond Wilson LLP, opened its doors April 24 but is celebrating its official launch May 22 with offices in Irvine, Calif. and Austin, Texas.

The firm will specialize in matters before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington and in inter partes reviews, Armond and Wilson told Bloomberg Law in a joint interview.

An IPR occurs when a party challenges the patentability of a U.S. patent in certain cases before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Such reviews are “a brand new industry that’s come up fast,” said Wilson.

It’s an area some larger firms have had difficulty coping with, Armond said, because the patent litigation teams formerly needed to handle such matters now can be much smaller.

“A firm like ours is in a great position,” she said.

A Fast Start

The firm’s offices are in California, where Armond works, and in Texas where Wilson lives, but each will be spending a significant amount of time in the Washington area before either the patent board or the Federal Circuit, Armond said.

The boutique, which currently includes Armond, 41, and Wilson, 46, and no other attorneys, has gotten off to a fast start and may expand before long, said Armond.

Each attorney brought clients from their former firms. Wilson comes from Heim, Payne & Chorush, a small Texas firm that focuses on patent infringement and class action antitrust cases. Clients that will follow him to the new boutique include Weatherford International, an oilfield services company.

On top of that, Armond Wilson signed several new clients in its first week, Armond said, in part through referrals.

Armond and Wilson first worked together about 15 years ago while serving as clerks for Judge Richard Linn of the Federal Circuit, and kept in touch over the years though their careers took them to different cities and law firms, they said.

Armond, who studied electrical engineering at Caltech before going to law school, worked at Irell & Manella for a two-year stint before heading to Knobbe Martens, where she became co-chair of that firm’s Patent Office litigation practice group.

She handles disputes involving electronics, software, medical devices, and consumer and household goods, among other products.

Wilson, a chemical engineer by training, worked as an engineer for a oil and chemical company for several years before law school.

He’s since handled litigation involving video games, cell phones, oilfield equipment, and pharmaceuticals.

Armond’s departure has not affected Knobbe Martens’ litigation and IPR practices, which continue to be robust, firm managing partner Steven Nataupsky said in a written statement.

“With a partnership our size, occasionally a partner chooses a different path, as here where a partner leaves to start a small practice with a friend,” Nataupsky said. “We wish Michelle the best with her new firm.”