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TikTok Taps Former Microsoft IP Head as General Counsel

Jan. 27, 2020, 11:33 PM

TikTok, the video-sharing social networking service owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance Ltd. has a new global legal chief.

Erich Andersen, who was corporate vice president and chief intellectual property counsel at Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash., until leaving the software giant in December, started his new job at TikTok on Monday, the company announced.

Andersen, who will work in New York and report to company president Alex Zhu, was not immediately available to comment. In a statement, Andersen said he looked forward to joining TikTok, an app launched in 2017, at a key time in its history.

“In just a handful of years, TikTok has become one of the world’s most dynamic internet platforms, inspiring creativity and bringing joy to millions of users worldwide,” he said. Andersen said he will work to put the company at “the forefront of global efforts to promote and balance user and community safety, alongside creative expression.”

A TikTok spokesman told Bloomberg Law that Andersen will be the company’s top in-house lawyer. ByteDance, its Beijing-based parent founded in 2012, does not have such a role, the spokesman said.

TikTok and ByteDance already employ at least a half-dozen in-house lawyers in the U.S., including public policy and corporate affairs head Eric Ebenstein, who earlier this month oversaw the release of TikTok’s first global transparency report detailing legal requests it received for user data during the first half of 2019.

Ebenstein did not return a request for comment about Andersen’s hire. Bloomberg Law data shows that Goodwin Procter, Shearman & Sterling, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati have all handled U.S. litigation work for ByteDance in recent years.

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TikTok and ByteDance have also hired U.S. lawyers for other positions.

In December, ByteDance hired Tracy Gardner, a former IP associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom who most recently served as senior vice president of global business development and strategy at Warner Music Group Corp., as its Culver City, Calif.-based head of music label licensing.

Jeffrey Collins, who began his career as a litigation associate O’Melveny & Myers before going on to serve as a diplomat for the State Department and senior counsel for global policy at energy giant Chevron Corp., also recently joined TikTok as a senior director of trust and safety. The role will see Collins handle various policy, risk, and analysis issues for the company.

A TikTok spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg Law that Collins and Gardner have both come aboard in roles outside its law department.

As for Andersen, he comes to TikTok after more than two decades at Microsoft, which hired him in 1995 as a corporate attorney after he spent more than four years at Davis Wright Tremaine.

Microsoft has announced that Jennifer Yokoyama, who joined the company in 2018 as head of IP litigation after serving as principal counsel for patent litigation at Apple Inc., has replaced Andersen as deputy general counsel and chief IP counsel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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