Litigation thoroughbred Ahmad Zavitsanos Anaipakos has successfully resolved disputes across virtually all technologies, industry sectors and forums; its lawyers’ gift for constructing tightly woven and compelling narratives works in any setting. Recent highlights include a Federal Circuit affirmance of a $15.7 million jury verdict for Rembrandt Wireless Technologies in a suit against Samsung Electronics over enhanced data rate Bluetooth technology. Leading the line on this were Demetrios Anaipakos
and Amir H Alavi
, two hugely respected and unflappable advocates that you can greenlight for a billion-dollar case with 100% confidence. One of the few patent lawyers to be board certified in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialisation, Anaipakos is a seasoned trial lawyer; Alavi, who has the same distinction, is another pro who knows just how to play it in the courtroom. These partners can shoulder an incredible load without it being burdensome and have built a highly sophisticated group around them; the team does not stand on ceremony and everyone is happy to muck in, so clients are never left wanting.
Baker Botts LLP
A major leaguer, and a five-tool player at that, Baker Botts is as versatile in intellectual property and patents as any firm in the country; it demonstrates a mastery of prosecution, litigation and transactions. Key recent developments for the nationwide outfit include the opening of a second office in California – in San Francisco – and the addition of a partner in DC – Lisa Kattan – to take point on a flourishing Section 337 investigations practice at the International Trade Commission (ITC). In Texas, meanwhile, it has been business as usual – which is to say that the local lawyers have been spearheading many important litigations, and “winning all the time”. There are any number of lawyers on deck who can first-chair a trial, and all of them are “formidable opponents” in the eyes of advocates across the aisle: “David Weaver
is extremely strategic and cost effective, and delivers excellent results. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of case law and is clear and persuasive in court. He easily develops a rapport with clients and judges and, in joint defence groups, is always a driving force.” He can be found in Austin. Taking charge in Dallas is electrical and computer engineer Douglas Kubehl
, who is a must for high-stakes, multi-jurisdictional litigations; he has another “top-notch defence lawyer” down the hall in Kurt Pankratz
, a safe pair of hands from filing to verdict. Houston IP chair Roger Fulghum
is good to go whatever piece of technology is at issue, though commentators single out his deft handling of disputes in the telecoms theatre for praise; with him in the office is Michael Hawes
, a clutch appellate lawyer and a go-to for contractual IP disputes. One thing which Baker Botts excels at is cultivating well-rounded IP lawyers and there is no better example of a protean patent professional than Kevin Meek
, who takes up a spot on all three of the accompanying individual tables. He just loves technology and stands out for handling high-tech and life sciences mandates with equal poise and precision. Recommended for litigation and transactions, firm-wide IP chair Barton Showalter
“demonstrates fine judgement” and strikes a perfect pitch in oral arguments and deal negotiations. Clients call him “one of the top practitioners in the United States, and someone you can trust with your most sensitive and strategic matters”, adding that “his licensing experience is unrivalled”. Paul Morico
blends extensive portfolio management litigation experience in a way that is compelling for innovators in diverse fields, such as energy and DNA sequencing. Given such rich resources, marquee technology companies can save time and money without skimping on quality by one-stop shopping here; Cisco Systems, for example, mandates the set on prosecution, licensing and litigation tasks, working primarily with Showalter, Kubehl and Pankratz. These three also teamed up (alongside others) for a big litigation victory on behalf of Genband against competitor Metaswitch Networks in which they squared off against the feared Quinn Emanuel.
Blank Rome LLP
Blank Rome’s patent group contains “really smart lawyers and strategists”, many of whom have advanced technical degrees and in-house experience and all of whom are as sharp as tacks on the technical and commercial aspects of their craft. The Texas contingent is exceptionally tight knit, meaning that clients get thorough advice that is well considered from all angles. For example, a team comprised of Keith Rutherford
, Keith Lutsch
and Russell Wong
is servicing the entire US and foreign patent portfolio of video and voice conferencing market leader Polycom and took point on the IP aspects of its $2 billion acquisition by Siris Capital. Rutherford chairs the IP and technology group and demonstrates impressive leadership in complex litigations; with in-house experience on his résumé, he keeps budgets in mind while working towards the satisfaction of commercial objectives. Wong, a former chief IP counsel at a Fortune 500 company, also excels in this regard. Lutsch comes into his own when it comes to industry standards and complex licensing. He makes his first appearance in the IAM Patent 1000
this year, as does David Cabello
, a technology aesthete with a deft touch in litigation and alternative forms of dispute resolution.
Alongside energy and finance, the technology sector is a bastion of strength for Bracewell. Placing a great deal of emphasis on intellectual property and patents, the Texas mainstay litigates frequently and winningly, and puts the seal on rewarding transactions for its many A-list clients. In charge of the technology section is management committee member Constance Rhebergen
, a dextrous international portfolio manager who caters expertly to the broad needs of the businesses and agencies that she represents, which include leading oilfield service company Baker Hughes. When matters get heavily contentious, the person to call is top-drawer litigator Alan Albright
, a master of pitch-perfect advocacy who was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers in September 2017. Making deals happen, meanwhile, is Janice Davis
who has ministered many lasting technology company marriages over her three decades in the business.
Caldwell Cassady & Curry
Dallas setup Caldwell Cassady & Curry thrives in the cut and thrust of high-stakes patent litigation, with strategic creativity being key to its success; the team has all the standard plays on lock, but mostly eschews them in favour of innovative tactics. There are few more formidable triumvirates than Bradley Caldwell
, Jason Cassady
and Austin Curry
. They push opponents to their limits, while staying well within their own, and have many big verdicts to their name – just check the exemplary case section of the firm’s website, which includes a 2017 $439.7 million judgment for VirnetX against Apple.
An award-winning IP boutique which is fastidious about quality but efficient about service, Conley Rose is a lodestar for Fortune 500 companies that want to protect core innovations over the long term while keeping their eyes fixed on their business. The man they seek out directly is leader of the patent bar Michael Piper
, whose American IP Law Association endeavours have made him a hero to many. He has his finger on the pulse of the market and can bring comfort through counselling on any IP question.
Dentons US LLP
Dentons’ star is in the ascendancy in the patent firmament; while recent California recruitment has attracted much attention, the ongoing development of the Texas contingent is also notable. Solid in both prosecution and litigation, the local side safeguards the interests of a slew of market leaders across the technology spectrum. Representing Monsanto, for example, is Robert Hanson
, whose team is responsible for prosecuting to grant more than half the company’s patents in the past 14 years. “Robert quickly grasps technical intricacies but, above all, listens to his clients’ needs. He is accessible, dependable, highly proficient, and delivers easy-to-digest advice cost-effectively and within budget.” The Coca-Cola Company leans heavily on Gary Solomon
for its prosecution and strategic counselling needs and finds rock-solid support. When patent infringement clouds threaten to ruin the day, look to Mark Nelson
for a silver lining. Based on experience alone, he is a great option – but add in expertise and track record as well and he is a must. When the University of Florida Board of Trustees – one of Hanson’s prosecution patrons – pursued a former licensee, Nelson did his thing and obtained a preliminary injunction against the defendant; this is just one recent success in a long list.
DLA Piper LLP (US)
DLA Piper delivers crisp results across the contentious/non-contentious divide and leverages its global platform to support companies with international horizons in the most meaningful way. Its Texas crew, however, is all about litigation; John Guaragna et al
operate aggressively but with integrity to defend and enforce the rights of DLA clients. Guaragna has handled dozens of patent suits in the Eastern District of Texas and often comes away with summary judgments in his favour.
Fish & Richardson PC
Fish has suffered some high-profile departures recently – Texan Thomas Melsheimer to Winston & Strawn, for example – but at a national level it unequivocally remains a top patent litigation, prosecution and transactions firm. Richly resourced in all these areas, it can protect clients to the hilt and exponentially enhance their ability to capitalise on the business opportunities that their intangible assets afford. Getting rights granted in the first instance and then crystallising potent portfolios is the province of Austin managing principal James Babineau
, whose consumer products expertise is unsurpassed. Also recommended for prosecution is former USPTO examiner Wes Musselman
. Part of what makes him so good is his litigation nous; experience of courtroom combat has given him a sixth sense for chinks in the armour of protection so he makes fortresses impregnable from the beginning. Down the hall from Musselman in Dallas sit two of the state’s top transactional experts, Kevin Gray
and Terry Stalford
. The head of the firm-wide licensing group, Gray inks contracts with an iron pen. Stalford maintains a litigation and a deal practice, affording him ample opportunity to flex his hypnotic powers of persuasion. Fitting the bill for clients seeking an out-and-out litigator are Danielle Joy Healey
and John Lane
, both of whom reside in Houston. Healey has litigated up and down the land for decades and has the worldly and strategic wisdom that only comes from time spent on the frontlines. Lane is competitive by nature and has a desire to win that pushes him through tough challenges; however, he is far from obstinate and works well with others to get the best results. Fish’s post-grant practice is one of the best in the country; contributing vitally to this is Joshua Griswold
, whose experience litigating and prosecuting makes him a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) natural.
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
When you hire a group that limits itself to a particular sector, you risk missing out on the sort of creative thinking that comes from diverse experience. If you are partnering with Gibson Dunn, however, that risk is mitigated to non-existence; its litigators – or rather trial lawyers – apply their ultra-sharp advocacy skills with winning results whatever the sector or technical subject matter facing them. Global IP group co-chair Mark Reiter
puts in masterful performances, guaranteed; he is a veteran lead counsel who cannot be fazed. He always rises to the occasion at trial, which is why companies often call him in to take over cases when they look like going the distance. When it comes to patent litigation, Gibson Dunn has carved out a name for itself in life sciences thanks to the efforts of Tracey Davies
, another experienced first chair. Like Reiter, she can handle anything for any technology company. The two are labelled “hard-working, creative attorneys who can be trusted for the toughest disputes”.
Haynes and Boone LLP
When it comes to providing an end-to-end patent service, few in the country do so brilliant a job as Haynes and Boone. Its IP team has filed in excess of 10,000 US patent applications in the past five years; is one of the top filers of inter partes reviews on behalf of petitioners, with a 95% institution rate and a 97% claim cancellation rate; and makes frequent appearances in district courts for both plaintiffs and defendants. Providing strong leadership to the 124-strong department is Randall Brown, a chemistry ace who oversees patent and trademark protection for Halliburton Energy Services alongside prosecution and transactions pro Mark Tidwell. Taking the reins on the post-grant front is exceptional attorney David McCombs, whose work is “reliably top notch”. “David critically assesses issues with precision, and fares well in oral hearings by preparing solid briefs and arguments. He is one of the best in the post-grant arena and, as well as being a great lawyer substantively, is a customer-oriented and service-minded professional with a can-do attitude.” At the forefront of the firm’s litigation and transactional endeavours respectively are Phillip Philbin and Randall Colson. Philbin has been putting in the hours for Ericsson lately, impressing as a tactically astute and even-keeled litigator who is a quick study on technology. Colson, who can reliably be found cutting deals at technology vanguards, is representing Toyota in connection with cloud-based technology solutions transactions.
Heim, Payne & Chorush LLP
Lawyers at this patent and antitrust litigation boutique “know the law inside out, know how to work the court system for the benefit of clients and are super people who make great things happen”. Cited specifically in this regard is founding partner Michael Heim
, a crack, technically trained litigator and “stellar lawyer” all round. There are others here with “outstanding trial skills”, including Eric Enger
and Douglas Wilson
, the latter being highlighted by peers for his “impressive post-grant talents”.
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
Hunton Andrews Kurth – the product of a recent merger between Andrews Kurth Kenyon and Hunton & Williams – is a 1,000-plus lawyer firm with a robust commercial practice in the Lone Star State. Its Texas IP team can cover the waterfront, protecting innovations with alacrity at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), defending and enforcing patents staunchly in court – and then ringing up the till when monetisation opportunities arise. The latter skillset calls to mind Jeff Dodd
, who is renowned as one of the top transactional experts in the country. When it comes to licensing, if the Modern Licensing Law
author does not know about it, then it simply is not worth knowing. Dodd co-chairs the global IP and technology practice and is also a perspicacious all-round strategic adviser.
Jones Day has quality patent professionals stationed throughout its domestic and international bureaux, the interconnectedness of which grants the firm an outstanding ability to sort out global patent problems. Flying the flag at the Dallas office and representing the city’s IP, business and civic communities in their best light is Hilda Galvan
, an esteemed trial lawyer who is well accustomed to the inside of a courtroom – particularly the one in Marshall. Houston-based Joseph Beauchamp
also keeps Jones Day in the mix for big-ticket patent disputes.
“McKool Smith has a deep bench of trial lawyers, which it deploys well to handle complex cases.” Respected for its contained aggression, it brings the heat on behalf of plaintiffs and “develops themes to win in front of a jury”. On the defence side, meanwhile, clients call it “efficient and effective”. Of course, it is also “extremely sharp on the technology and knows patent law back to front”. All the top lawyers here get great feedback but some of the best is reserved for Theodore Stevenson
, who is lauded both as a case manager and as an advocate. “Ted is especially effective at managing complex issues and directing his team appropriately to ensure that everything is timely and precisely handled. In addition to excellent legal skills, Ted also has a deep appreciation of the technology at issue in his cases and a keen ability to learn it and simplify it for juries.” Peers praise him, too, describing him as a “talented, articulate trial attorney with a lot of swagger”. Another leader here is Dallas principal Douglas Cawley
– a man with over four decades of litigation experience: “He is a fantastic storyteller who is great at identifying the most important issues and presenting them resonantly.” “Client and goal oriented, highly organised, supremely well prepared and respected by all – judges, jurors, opposing counsel – Mike McKool
simply knows how to win.” Likewise Samuel Baxter
, a “hard-charger who has the inside track when it comes to litigating in the Eastern District of Texas” and “one of the best cross-examiners in the game”. More of a rising star is “remarkably good” commercial and IP litigator Scott Cole
, who has tried over 20 cases to verdict in just 15 years. The firm’s IAM Patent 1000
2018 submission is stuffed to the brim with impressive work examples: representing Nokia against Apple in a worldwide dispute that ended in a great settlement deal; acting for Ericsson against TCL Communication; fighting for Rovi Guides against Comcast in the ITC; and representing Sanofi entities and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in a patent litigation regarding a revolutionary biologic.
Meyertons, Hood, Kivlin, Kowert & Goetzel, PC
One of the largest indigenous IP outfits in Texas, Meyertons, Hood, Kivlin, Kowert & Goetzel has superlative technical credentials and many awards for outstanding prosecution and counselling on its mantelpiece. Innovative technology companies bringing instructions here find themselves looking almost into a mirror; the firm relishes bringing fresh ideas to the table and has a down-to-earth vibe, where the only thing that really matters is doing a top job. Founding shareholder Robert Kowert
is one of the top computer hardware and software and electronics experts on deck. The former Dell and National Instruments senior design engineer loves talking shop with inventors and is the named inventor on six issued US patents; he is also passionate about sharing his technical knowledge and has written extensively on technology topics.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
Well rounded in prosecution, scintillating in court, immensely capable in front of the PTAB and experienced in sewing up lucrative technology transactions, Morgan Lewis has the bases covered in patent practice like few other commercial law firms. Its Texas lawyers are best known for their litigation dexterity and, with head of local practice Winstol Carter
in fine fettle, the squad is constantly building on its excellent track record. Carter has gone the distance many times; he has knifelike trial skills as a result of exposure to a broad range of corporate and commercial law suits. TCL Communication recently called the sharpshooter in shortly before its international patent licensing dispute with Ericsson was to proceed to trial; filing multiple inter partes
review petitions, he ultimately invalidated four of the five patents in suit. With Carter in the Houston office is Rick Rambo
, another versatile litigator ready to roll in any commercial action. The former head of a software business is in his element in fights over computer technology. He and David Levy
frequently join forces to give a US multinational IT company a strong one-two punch. Levy has litigated international disputes for much of his career and currently serves as co-head of the firm’s global international arbitration team.
Munck Wilson Mandala LLP
The protection and commercialisation of technology is the raison d’etre
of Munck Wilson Mandala, a sophisticated firm with a modern look and feel and an expansive footprint in the Southwest. Managing partner and technology and IP chair William Munck
runs a tight ship while maintaining a busy practice of his own. A tenacious attorney who does not relent until his clients’ intangible assets are fully shielded, he is also a long-term tactical thinker who puts companies in the most commercially advantageous grooves. He undertakes myriad preparation and prosecution tasks for Honeywell International and Raytheon, among many others, proving to be “one of the best in terms of delivering quality results on time, and working well with inventors”. Further: “His team also provides creative prosecution advice and options, and excellent suggestions on strategy.” When it comes to litigation, Munck “is efficient and cost-effective, but provides a world-class service” and “either wins outright, or extracts business-favourable settlements”. On the contentious front, he has lately been enforcing Galderma Laboratories’ patent rights against generic drug manufacturers.
Nelson Bumgardner PC
Built from the ground up to handle big-ticket commercial and patent cases, Nelson Bumgardner is home to a stable of experienced and trial-savvy litigators; put them in any forum and give them any technology and they will piece together an irresistible case. Setting the tone are founding partners and inspiring advocates Barry Bumgardner
and Ed Nelson III
. Top-level in-house experience has given the former a native understanding of the commercial objectives of his clients, which he never loses sight of through all phases of litigation. The latter trained at the famous McKool Smith, so he started his litigation career on the right foot. He will not use a sledgehammer to crack a nut – but he has a fine one at the ready for really big cases. Also highly rated is Donald Puckett
, a commercial litigator who is razor sharp in patent infringement suits. Among the set’s lawyers, Puckett is the most experienced in front of the PTAB; in fact, he is such a fount of post-grant insight and analysis that other attorneys regularly consult with him on PTAB procedure.
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP
Norton Rose Fulbright’s national IP group has grown significantly in recent years, the addition of eight lawyers in New York being particularly significant. In his role as global head of intellectual property, James Repass
has been making all the right moves to keep his firm shining bright. Clients rave about transactional ace and all-round counsellor Repass, who is “brilliant at identifying and executing the best strategies, and excellent at managing costs, timelines and workflows”. “Particularly valuable is his understanding of his clients’ business objectives and political situation, which really helps him deliver the support that is actually needed.” In Texas, the firm continues on much the same track as before; this is a good thing, however, seeing as it has long topped the field in litigation. The head of US disputes Charles Walker
is “a strong litigator and excellent IP lawyer who handles a lot of big cases”. He knows the oil and gas industry especially well, and acts for leaders within it such as Shell. In the high-tech sector, Richard Zembek
stands tallest. “He is an extremely intelligent guy and an agile lawyer who can take a complex set of facts in a sophisticated technical field and work through a case quickly to come out with a great result.” Moving from Houston to the Dallas office, Dan Davison
and Brett Govett
come onto the radar. “Smart and seasoned, responsive and reliable, Dan understands what you’re after and knows how to achieve the best results, and is a trial lawyer you can trust for any IP dispute.” Govett has litigated far and wide and in many types of dispute, as a result of which he is “very, very sharp”. “He acts on both sides of the ‘v’, adopts aggressive positions, but takes the edge off with a genuine southern charm.” One of the rare litigation high fliers committed to its prosecution practice, Norton Rose Fulbright has filed over 10,000 US patent and 25,000 foreign patent applications since 2010 – it is no dilettante. US head of intellectual property and molecular biology PhD Gina Shishima
brings her significant prosecution talents to bear for Baylor Research Institute and the Baylor Health Care System, and marshals a group of foreign agents in many European, Asian and Latin American jurisdictions to ensure healthy portfolio maintenance worldwide. IP transactions and prosecution chief Mark Bradley Wilson
in Austin amps up the life sciences practice with his considerable biotech expertise. He protects patents across borders with alacrity and commercialises them energetically, always with global horizons. Rutherford Ross Viguet
possesses a similar skillset. He overlays his legal and technical expertise with a fine-grained understanding of business, having previously built a highly successful systems integration company.
Osha Liang LLP
“Fabulous, streamlined and cost-effective international IP player” Osha Liang is a past master at protecting innovations and getting patent applications granted in the United States, in Europe and in Asia. Agile in all technical fields, and innovative in its deployment of patent agents, the group “understands that acquiring patents is not just a legal process but a multifaceted art” and has “consistently gotten more sophisticated in its pursuit of IP rights”. One of the best in the business is Jeffrey Bergman
, a thought and practice leader in the areas of oilfield technology and nanotechnology, and chemistry, materials science and mechanical engineering more generally. A lightning rod for praise, he has “an unparalleled breadth and depth of knowledge”. “The extent of his insight into the prosecution process and the thinking of USPTO examiners is a real differentiator – it enables him to save time, money and a lot of frustration. He is fast to respond, and also represents excellent value for money.” No one-trick pony, Osha Liang fights frequently in district courts as well as the PTAB and brings experience of international litigation to the table – something for prospective clients to keep in mind.
Patterson + Sheridan LLP
Working with “excellent IP boutique” Patterson + Sheridan “leaves you feeling good about the strength of patent protection you are getting”. Patrons of the firm, which include leading names in high-tech, energy and many other fields, tend to stay loyal because they get IP assets that align precisely with their broader commercial interests and at a very competitive price point. Founding partner Todd Patterson
does not see the need to strike a balance between quality and efficiency – he simply delivers the highest standards of both. An astute IP counsellor who digs into complex technologies with gusto, he also makes sure to foster a collaborative internal environment in which his partners and juniors thrive.
Reed Smith LLP
In Texas, Reed Smith is now a great option for heavyweight patent litigation in a way it was not only a few years ago; Peter Chassman
and Nicolas Barzoukas
have given the firm an aura of formidability since joining in 2015 and 2016, respectively. They have been lighting up the PTAB and, in litigation between their clients CellCast Technologies and EnvisionIT, defeated 10 out of 10 inter partes
reviews filed by the US government and IBM. Chassman, who previously lead the Texas IP practice at Winston & Strawn, is a seasoned trial lawyer who shines for his advocacy and client service. In the words of one patron: “Pete is more responsive than literally every other outside counsel I’ve worked with. In terms of technical knowledge, his is expansive enough to allow him to delve into the minutiae of non-infringement or invalidity defences in even the most complex cases; this is a significant distinction – he can fully evaluate issues based on his decades of experience and doesn’t need to rely on someone else’s take on technical details.” Barzoukas, having previously served at Weil and Baker Botts, also has excellent pedigree as an advocate, and can similarly inspire and motivate those around him to great things. New to the IAM Patent 1000
this year is fellow litigator Robert Riddle
, an expert in the pharmaceutical, biotech and chemical fields who has been on the money in his recent representation of Merck Sharp & Dohme in various Hatch-Waxman Act litigations. “Robert thinks 10 steps ahead of everyone else. He knows the technical subject matter he deals with cold and is able to effectively communicate subtle but important technical distinctions in a way that is easy to understand. Stylistically, he is incredible effective – credible, intelligent, respectful and confident without being aggressive, condescending or cocky. Together with his team, he is highly organised and diligent, and makes you feel like you are the top priority. He also doesn’t sugar coat things or gloss over difficult issues.” Working with the firm more broadly is “very refreshing”: “Reed Smith is willing to be flexible on price points and takes a long view rather than just trying to get the most amount of billables in the short term.”
Patent litigation specialist Skiermont Derby backs itself and offers alternative fee arrangements to clients in which risk is often shared, its confidence the result of a talent for developing compelling trial narratives, as well as an excellent track record. Rapidly gaining command of the facts in a case, the team focuses with unique intensity on the key points that will sway decision makers while staying flexible and ready to pivot when circumstances change. The importance of Paul J Skiermont
’s leadership in this, and in all regards, cannot be overstated. “Paul distinguishes himself by his ability to communicate clearly and in a manner understood by judges and juries. He is tremendously intelligent, cordial and responsive, and has a deep knowledge of the US patent litigation system. His team undertakes an impressive level of research into the technology and the market environment surrounding it.” Among other recent victories, he won a jury trial and $6 million in damages for LoggerHead Tools against Sears and Apex Tool Group, and another (with a similar damages figure) for Packet Intelligence against Netscout Systems. His most recent PTAB win, in which he defeated six inter partes
review petitions seeking review of more than 100 claims across five patents, also came for Packet Intelligence.
Slater & Matsil LLP
Slater & Matsil is all about supporting the business development of its clients. The patent quality chart topper does this by procuring commercially advantageous IP assets and then thinking strategically about how to optimise them in the marketplace. The boutique adds value by doing it all internationally, too. Founding partner Steven Slater
is a former product engineer who, in private practice, has wide-ranging litigation, prosecution and transactions experience. He is highly effective as both sword and shield.
Susman Godfrey LLP
Fearsome Susman Godfrey – one of the original contingency fee firms to take patent litigation by storm – is both ultra-efficient and devastating in court and in negotiations. Its partners are dyed-in-the-wool trial lawyers who relentlessly pursue client-defined wins and who cover themselves with glory when everything is at stake. Two of the best are Justin Nelson
and Joseph Grinstein
, who each garner widespread acclaim from the marketplace. “Justin has extraordinarily good litigation judgement – he knows which fights to pick and when to back off; he thinks strategically and doesn’t let ego come into it. He is extraordinarily responsive, too – if you miss him, he’ll call you right back with a well-reasoned answer.” Meanwhile, Grinstein’s knowledge of the law, understanding of his cases’ finer details, organisation and team leadership are all “exemplary”. “He is courteous, personable and approachable, keeps his clients informed and is always willing to take the time to explain the subtle details and complexities of litigation in a way which is most helpful.” Like Nelson, Grinstein also “doesn’t carry an ego”. Commentators acknowledge that “all the Susman lawyers are superb” – so when someone like Max Tribble
records a $706.2 million trade secret verdict, as he just did for HouseCanary in March 2018, it makes the news but does not elicit surprise. For the fact that “quality is uniformly high across the firm”, much credit must go to Stephen Susman
, one of the top plaintiff representatives in the country – in any legal discipline.
Thompson & Knight LLP
Stable in its line-up and consistently effective in its representation, Thompson & Knight is trusted by technological innovators when the chips are down. Its patent litigation unit is extremely seasoned and has a finely calibrated compass to navigate parties to successful closes both in and out of the courtroom. As IP captain Max Ciccarelli
sets the tone. Highly proficient in US IP disputes with international ramifications or parallel proceedings in foreign jurisdictions, he is tactically creative and acutely sensitive to the business needs of his clients. He has cultivated a collaborative ethos in the group, so the lawyers all support each other. He regularly litigates complex multi-patent suits in tandem, for example with Bruce Sostek
, an American College of Trial Lawyers fellow whose arguments in court always cut the mustard. Further driving home the point about teamwork, these two recently joined forces with Richard Wynne
, Herbert Hammond
and Jane Politz Brandt
to give a global semiconductor leader ample firepower in a dispute with a Japanese conglomerate. Wynne tackles all manner of IP and commercial cases with verve and is extremely versatile. So too Hammond, who puts up staunch defences as well as launching stinging attacks, and who also brings rich arbitration and mediation expertise to the practice. Veteran litigator Brandt delivers reliably impressive performances, whether behind the scenes or on the frontlines, and showcases a deft touch on appellate matters. Steeped in prosecution and licensing, Thompson & Knight can do it all for patent owners. For interested parties, the transactions guru is Stephen Stein
, who has been cutting deals the artisanal way for nearly three decades.
Vinson & Elkins LLP
Vinson & Elkins has been flying high in Texas since 2016, when it recruited several prominent high-tech patent litigators, including Fred Williams
, Craig Tyler
and Michael Simons
. With these additions, the firm’s long well-received message that it can deploy top trial lawyers to handle multiple complex cases concurrently has all the more resonance. Williams, who was recently appointed as co-head of the IP practice, has been battling for HTC in the ITC while simultaneously recording substantial district court victories for the likes of Blizzard Entertainment. His persuasive narrative style works like a charm in all forums. Tyler has traversed the country in the successful pursuit of litigation wins and guided clients on international strategy with exceptional perspicacity. No stranger to a jury, Simons has gone the distance many times, proving impossible to pigeonhole technically. A fourth option, but certainly not a fourth string, is Peter Mims
who – by dint of his meaty transactional practice – has refined a business-focused approach to resolving IP contentions. This was crucial in his recent Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit win on behalf of Moblize against TDE Petroleum Data Solutions, upholding the dismissal of a patent infringement suit filed by the latter and claiming $200 million in damages. Another Texas name to note from an integrated group also spanning New York, California and Washington DC is Steve Borgman
who, like his fellow Houstonian Mims, has litigation and transactional skill in equal abundance.
Ward, Smith & Hill PLLC
Ward, Smith & Hill is a litigation specialist well known and respected among those who make regular appearances in the Eastern District of Texas. Patent infringement has become a central plank of the boutique’s broad commercial disputes practice – it is a discipline in which founding partner John Ward
and Wesley Hill
excel. Ward needs no introduction as one of the state’s most experienced orators, while Hill makes his debut in the IAM Patent 1000
this year on the back of his peers’ praise. “Outstanding” and “exceptional” are commonly-used superlatives when describing Hill, who is board certified in civil trial law and who has litigated more than 30 trials.
A perennial favourite of some of the world’s most originative technology companies, Weil has a redoubtable litigation group and market-leading technology transactions capability that never fails to draw a crowd. Unlike a lot of the big players in Texas, it maintains a harmonised national practice in which lawyers from different offices join forces as a matter of routine. For example, in securing a permanent injunction for LiquidPower Speciality Products – a leader in drag reducing agent technology for crude oils – against Flowchem, Doug McClellan
of Houston combined effectively with New York’s Elisabeth Weiswasser. McClellan uses his chemical engineering background well but is technically adept as a general matter and has fans in diverse industries. Likewise Garland Stephens
, for whom the automotive and computer networking fields have lately proven to be happy hunting grounds. While these guys are hardened trial lawyers, they are also people who resolve disputes, rather than just fight them.
Among high-end patent litigation firms countrywide, Winston & Strawn made some of the savviest moves of 2017 in the lateral market. Establishing its presence in Dallas by bringing Thomas Melsheimer
into the fold was particularly inspired. Smooth as silk in court, Melsheimer is unique in Texas for both the number of litigation benchmarks he has set and the array of legal fields he has set them in. Patent suits are not something he just plays at, however; he is deep into the game and, as recent highlights show, is an inveterate winner. Together with Kathi Vidal, who is also newly joined to the Winston cause, he came up trumps for SAP America against InvestPic when a Northern District of Texas judge invalidated all claims of the asserted patent under Section 101. He also obtained a Federal Circuit affirmance of a win for FFF Enterprises against AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group which was earned, in part, by clever moves at the PTAB. Joining Melsheimer in the gold tier this year is Houston’s John Keville
, “an absolutely stellar lawyer who you can trust with anything”. He is “ultra-smart and incredibly dedicated” and “has an excellent track record”. Another “top-notch guy” is Joseph Lechtenberger
, who is the go-to here for anything energy related.