Richard “Chip” Lutton Jr, Apple’s senior patent attorney in charge of iPhone-related properties, is leaving the company and is being replaced by BJ Watrous. Mr. Watrous has previously served as deputy general counsel for Hewlett Packard.
According to Reuters, no reason has been given to explain Mr. Lutton’s pending departure. Unnamed sources claimed he will be officially gone from Apple, possibly as soon as next month.
The timing of the change on Apple’s legal team lands in the middle of several big patent battles. Apple is currently dealing with patent infringement lawsuits from Samsung, and is suing HTC over patent infringement allegations, too. Most recently, Apple filed a second complaint against HTC with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Apple is also dealing with patent lawsuits and potential legal action from several smaller companies including Lodsys. Currently, Lodsys is targeting iOS app developers in an effort to force them into licensing the same patents Apple for which is already paying fees.
There isn’t any word yet on exactly when Mr. Watrous will be taking over for Mr. Lutton, although his LinkedIn profile already lists as Vice President & Chief IP Counsel for Apple.
Apple has not commented on Mr. Lutton’s departure.