United States: North Carolina


  • Alston & Bird LLP
  • Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
  • King & Spalding LLP
  • Moore & Van Allen PLLC
  • Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP
  • Barnes & Thornburg LLP
  • Withrow + Terranova

Alston & Bird LLP

Alston & Bird maintains a sterling reputation in patent prosecution and litigation, while the duality of its expertise also gives it a distinct advantage in the post-grant space. The well-roundedness of its national offering is reflected at the local level in North Carolina: its Charlotte office plays host to top prosecutors Guy Gosnell and Brian Ellsworth; leading litigators Michael Connor, Bruce Rose and Benjamin Pleune; and post-grant ace Christopher Douglas. Electrical and computer science group captain Gosnell has a pristine track record obtaining broad and robust patent protection; and through his cutting-edge work in the telecommunications space, has cultivated a rare facility for SEPs. Collaborating with colleagues in trademarks and designs, contractual law and litigation, he provides fulsome support to in-house teams. Ellsworth co-chairs the patent group and is an advanced mechanical and electrical technologies specialist who draws on keen analytical skills and commercial thinking to pinpoint patent value and extract it in a multitude of ways. Michael Connor is the most senior trial lawyer on deck and a former leader of the firm’s IP litigation group. He kick-started 2020 with a win for Ford against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ethanol Boosting Systems in a suit implicating Ford’s EcoBoost engines; efforts in this regard are ongoing, with Ford having successfully instituted three inter partes reviews and the plaintiffs having filed a new suit against Ford on additional patents. Rose and Pleune, meanwhile, have been busy at the ITC handling a complaint on behalf of Honeywell asserting infringement of seven US patents relating to bar code readers and scanners, which settled in early 2020 alongside a parallel district court action; coordinating with foreign counsel in the Netherlands and Germany, they also filed several additional actions in Europe, which are ongoing. This matter is a great example of their ability to lead major campaigns. Douglas – newly ranked in the IAM Patent 1000 US national post-grant table this year – is working with Connor on the Ford litigation and supporting other colleagues in a dispute between client Dell and Alacritech involving data processing and internet protocol patents.

Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Barnes & Thornburg has quickly established itself as a life sciences go-to in Raleigh, where it opened an office in late 2019. Its ascent has much to do with the brilliance of seasoned former in-house patent counsel Amy Fix, who attracts vocal praise from the market: “Amy has deep expertise with agricultural, veterinary and pharmaceutical small-molecule drug development and intellectual property. She partners closely with scientific and business development teams, guiding innovation efforts and building commercially valuable portfolios.” One source confides: “I have been working with patent attorneys on various early-stage projects for decades and, in my opinion, Amy is the best, most capable and helpful of them all. She has high-level technical expertise and is a great strategic thinker.” Her illustriousness is matched by that of Allen Baum, who also enjoys eminent standing in the pharmaceutical industry as a result of his great and many in-house and private practice achievements. He manages large portfolios with a deft touch and is a sought-after opinion giver.

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

For strategic counsel that unlocks patent and portfolio potential, Kilpatrick Townsend is a sure bet. The sheer volume of its workload has afforded countless learning opportunities, which it has capitalised on to build incredible institutional knowledge regarding not just the mechanics of prosecution, litigation and transactions, but also the business of intellectual property.  Crystallising this in diverse areas of patent practice are a number of versatile practitioners in North Carolina, including Steven Gardner, Matias Ferrario, John Alemanni and Charles Calkins. Collaborating effectively to give patrons the benefit of their combined wisdom, they provide total support to clinical diagnostics laboratory LabCorp, which the firm represents in connection with IP counselling, licensing and transactions, prosecution (in all IP categories), post-grant proceedings and patent infringement litigation. Gardner and Ferrario are the top litigators locally; Alemmani the leading post-grant mind; and Calkins the standout all-rounder.

King & Spalding LLP

For innovative companies, King & Spalding has numerous persuasive selling points: its patent group is well resourced nationally, rich in technical expertise and industry knowledge, and comprehensive in its ability to protect, monetise and enforce or defend patent rights. Worthy of special mention is its big-ticket litigation prowess, which is channelled by Timothy Barber, one of the best and most experienced patent trial lawyers certainly in the Southeastern United States, but also in the country.

Moore & Van Allen PLLC

Flexing high-calibre prosecution, portfolio management and transactional capabilities, Moore & Van Allen has earned the trust of a host of blue-chip companies looking to procure strong patent rights and put them to good use commercially. The IP group benefits from exceptional leadership provided by Kevin Ransom, a world-class prosecutor and strategist relied on by financial, manufacturing and high-technology multinationals. Chemistry PhD Chris Knors is cut from the same cloth and provides an equally essential service to medical and life sciences concerns. Joining them in the rankings for the first time this year, Jeffrey Gray has impressive credentials with his blend of mechanical and design engineering and business training. All three regularly engage in due diligence work and lean heavily into a stellar transactions practice which is primarily manned by Dickson Lupo, Todd Taylor and Henry Ward. Lupo is a trusted ally in touch-and-go negotiations and a master at getting critical deals through. Taylor’s in-house experience is a boon to the group, as is his fine-grained understanding of data privacy and cybersecurity matters; while Ward has a flair for the fine print of licensing agreements. Moore & Van Allen also handles complex litigation with confidence and poise, putting Mark Wilson on to the field to call the right plays.

Withrow + Terranova

Highly specialised patent outfit Withrow + Terranova acquits itself with distinction in all areas of patent practice, short of court litigation. Particularly sought after for its preparation and prosecution dexterity and perspicacious opinions, the firm provides a tailored, efficient and cost-effective service without compromising on quality. Ben Withrow is the main draw for innovators in the telecommunications, semiconductor, electronics and software domains; an experienced engineer with sophisticated prosecution skills and litigation insight, he’s the complete package. Likewise Steve Terranova, an inventor himself with first-hand engineering and general counsel insight. Without taking the edge off their laser business and results focus, they have fostered an informal, collaborative culture in which they and their colleagues thrive.

Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP

Gaining significantly enhanced coverage in the IAM Patent 1000 North Carolina rankings this year, Womble Bond Dickinson has high-spec patent experts – all of whom play leadership roles in the firm-wide group – stationed in Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Charlotte, who combine to give a 360-degree service. Alongside Christopher Humphrey and Andrew Spence, who make their return to the guide, Ryan Cagle and Kevin Lyn both earn debuts on the prosecution table; while John Morrow secures his place on the litigation table. As leader of the national patent group, Humphrey has instilled a business-minded, strategic approach that goes down a treat for one major tobacco company, among many other clients for which he lights up IP and commercial pathways. Electronics and computer technology ace Spence takes the lead in managing a 300-plus patent portfolio for a global aerospace and defence company. Conducting meticulous prosecution in support of both relationships, Cagle captains the chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology team. As a lead attorney, he acts for 8 Rivers Capital, a technology development company working with zero-emission power production, space launch systems and carbon neutral/negative technologies, for which he has built an 800-strong portfolio of patents and applications worldwide. Assisting on this brief, Lyn leads the mechanical patent team and plays a key role for the firm with respect to diversity and inclusion initiatives. Morrow chairs the US IP litigation group and is an assured advocate in any type of IP case in any court across the country.

Other recommended experts

Pharmaceutical patent litigation is the metier of Mayer Brown partner Joseph Mahoney. A doctor of pharmacy, he goes beyond the brief to provide astute IP due diligence assessments and wraparound strategic counsel. Katten’s Jitty Malik draws on a deep well of life sciences technical and industry knowledge to guide companies throughout all phases of the drug development process and in litigation challenges. Arles Taylor flies the flag of patent boutique Jenkins, Wilson, Taylor & Hunt and spearheads its practice in the life sciences and chemical fields. He is an adept prosecutor at the USPTO and global portfolio manager.

Individuals: litigation

  • John C Alemanni - Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
  • Timothy G Barber - King & Spalding LLP
  • Michael S Connor - Alston & Bird LLP
  • Matias Ferrario - Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
  • Steven Gardner - Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
  • Joseph A Mahoney - Mayer Brown
  • Jitty Malik - Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
  • John F Morrow Jr - Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP
  • Benjamin Pleune - Alston & Bird LLP
  • Bruce Rose - Alston & Bird LLP
  • Mark Wilson - Moore & Van Allen PLLC

Individuals: prosecution

  • Allen R Baum - Barnes & Thornburg LLP
  • Ryan Cagle - Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP
  • Christopher Douglas - Alston & Bird LLP
  • Brian C Ellsworth - Alston & Bird LLP
  • Amy Fix - Barnes & Thornburg LLP
  • Guy R Gosnell - Alston & Bird LLP
  • Jeffrey Gray - Moore & Van Allen PLLC
  • Christopher M Humphrey - Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP
  • Chris Knors - Moore & Van Allen PLLC
  • Kevin Lyn - Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP
  • Kevin Ransom - Moore & Van Allen PLLC
  • Andrew T Spence - Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP
  • Arles Taylor - Jenkins, Wilson, Taylor & Hunt
  • Steve Terranova - Withrow + Terranova
  • Henry Ward - Moore & Van Allen PLLC
  • Ben Withrow - Withrow + Terranova

Individuals: transactions

  • Allen R Baum - Barnes & Thornburg LLP
  • Charles W Calkins - Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
  • Amy Fix - Barnes & Thornburg LLP
  • Dickson M Lupo - Moore & Van Allen PLLC
  • Todd Taylor - Moore & Van Allen PLLC
  • Henry Ward - Moore & Van Allen PLLC