Silicon Valley remains the centre of the world’s IT, smart phone and internet industries, while California overall plays host to significant research and development in the life sciences industries, stimulating both highly complex and valuable patent litigation. Its northern and southern district courts are important patent litigation forums, combining to attract one of the world’s largest concentrations of patent litigation expertise. As a result, the standards of practitioners found in California are as high as anywhere else in the world, and the state is home to two of the world’s most recognisable practitioners in the field: Morgan Chu and Matthew Powers. Broadly speaking, the trends playing out across the whole of the United States – namely the seemingly ever-increasing activity of non-practising entities and the flood of multiple defendant cases – also affect practitioners in California.
While remaining a small, independent outfit working out of two offices in the state, this highly respected practice is reputed as a national leader. It wins praise for its “thorough and exemplary work” for clients including St Jude Medical, TiVo, eBay and Western Digital, alongside numerous start-ups, growing companies and leading academic institutions, including Columbia University and the University of Illinois. The firm’s renown rests squarely on the shoulders of prodigious litigation group chair Morgan Chu, who is universally acclaimed as “an incredibly great lawyer”, “at the very top of the tree” and “one of the best trial lawyers in patent litigation”. His practice encompasses the most sophisticated and challenging jury trials and matters before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). He is known for the breadth of his practice and, reflecting the approach of the firm, specialises in patent litigation rather than in a particular area of technology. He led the team representing Novellus Systems in an eight-year case that was recently resolved with a unanimous jury verdict in favour of Novellus. While Chu may often lead the charge, the firm’s “deep bench with a lot of smart people” also impresses, including Gary Frischling and Andrei Iancu, both of whom are acknowledged as “excellent practitioners”.Morrison & Foerster LLP
With a “large collection of talented people”, this firm “really stands out”; peers agree that it is “one of the most competitive in the market” and are “always pleased to see it as cocounsel”. Morrison & Foerster is equally at home advising domestic and foreign clients across a wide variety of technologies, including biotechnology, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, telecommunications, consumer electronics and software. Its Tokyo office has won the trust of Japanese clients including Hitachi, Toshiba and Fujitsu. Closer to home, it has achieved successes for Bayer, Novartis and EchoStar. Managing partner Harold McElhinny is “one of the top patent litigators around”. While he has a broad practice, he tends to focus his work on cases concerning life sciences and electronic technology. With a string of highprofile cases to his name, Michael Jacobs is currently acting for Oracle as plaintiff in the much-discussed Oracle America, Inc v Google, Inc, involving Google’s alleged infringement of seven Java patents. He is a leader in the field of IT patents and “unquestionably at the top of the next generation”. Rachel Krevans is similarly esteemed for her work in electronics and biosciences. “Practical, with great judgement”, she is a “low-key but highly effective courtroom advocate” and is considered “an excellent lawyer and team leader”.Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP
“A premier trial firm” and “an aggressive competitor for patent litigation mandates”, this litigation boutique “plays at the highest levels”. Thanks to its “growth and focus on this area”, patent litigation has become the mainstay of the firm; the team’s courtroom appearances are earning it a stellar profile. Claude Stern is hailed as a “big hitter”, a “major player” and “first rate”. He co-chairs the firm’s national IP litigation practice and has particular experience in the IT sector. Charles Verhoeven heads the firm’s Northern California practice and is best known for his patent litigation work across a wide range of technologies. “A great strategist and an excellent trial lawyer”, he “cuts to the chase, and really knows how to win a case”. He made headlines through victories on behalf of Google and Yahoo!; other clients include IBM, Motorola, RealNetworks, Broadcom, Cisco, Bally, GE, Qualcomm and Genentech. William Price is another “big name” at the firm, with a broad practice that includes patent litigation.Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
This New York native has a longstanding and extremely impressive practice on the West Coast. The team is led by the co-chair of Weil’s litigation practice, Matthew Powers, one of the country’s most recognisable patent litigators. The firm benefits from “one of the best benches of lawyers, constant top-level work and overall exceptional quality”. Clients also appreciate its national footprint, focus on patent litigation and diverse technological expertise, which have enabled it to act in precedent-setting cases for market leaders such as Biogen Idec, Genentech, Merck, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, Micron, NetApp, eBay and Yahoo!. “Driving force” Powers stands apart as one of the most esteemed practitioners in the market. His “marvellous intellect and courtroom skills” win him many big-ticket instructions; he recently prevailed for PDL BioPharma in litigation brought by former licensee MedImmune LLC. Powers also has significant experience before the CAFC and the International Trade Commission (ITC). Jared Bobrow is also seen in important cases and lately led the team representing Micron Technology in Micron Technology, Inc v Rambus Inc. His practice focuses on semiconductors, networks, signal processing and medical devices. Edward Reines is “highly active and summons a great deal of respect as a thought leader”, with lectureships at Berkeley and Stamford complementing his legal practice. This combination makes him a “go-to choice” for many clients. He acted for NatApp when his client and others in the storage industry were sued for alleged patent infringement by Data Network Storage.
This IP boutique’s respected California office has “a long track record of success” and forms an important part of its “excellent national practice”. It is highly competitive across a wide range of industries and technologies, and is regarded by peers as “a strong competitor”. Juanita Brooks “readily springs to mind” as a notable presence in San Diego, boasting a wealth of patent litigation experience.Keker & Van Nest LLP
Although its dedicated patent litigation specialists left in 2009 to form Durie Tangri, Keker & Van Nest retains a superb reputation in the market thanks to the prodigious skills of name partners John Keker and Robert Van Nest. Both earn praise as “phenomenal, fantastic, quintessential trial lawyers who will try any case”; while not specialised in patent litigation, they remain client favourites for this kind of work, thanks to their “outstanding, flawless execution and great strategic planning”. Last year, the firm successfully acted for a major technology player in litigation brought by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which alleged infringement against a number of companies providing wireless networking devices.Kirkland & Ellis LLP
“A longstanding and fierce competitor”, Kirkland & Ellis is a familiar courtroom presence, with a seven-partner team handling a broad range of work. The “highly visible” Robert Krupka is “just terrific” and feared by his opponents thanks to a string of high-profile victories; he recently led Teva Women’s Health to its first patent litigation victory, winning summary judgment against Watson Laboratories in the US District Court for the District of Nevada. He also acted for plaintiffs Mallinckrodt and Liebel-Flarsheim against E-ZEM and ACIST Medical Systems in a jury trial in the Eastern District of Texas.Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
“Bringing great stuff to the table”, this firm enjoy a strong reputation and profile in California, where it has its headquarters. Its “very strong and deep team” has a substantial international aspect to its practice, with a particular focus on China. It acts in patent litigation across a wide range of industries, but has perhaps become best known for its work on computer hardware and software, ecommerce and life sciences matters. William Anthony is an “excellent” attorney at the Menlo Park office. He has appeared for Oracle in the Eastern District of Texas and for Microsoft in InterTrust Technologies v Microsoft Corporation, a complex and protracted case involving more than 11 digital rights management software patents. Neel Chatterjee is “an excellent courtroom advocate” and has “a growing reputation that guarantees you’ll see great things from him in the years to come”. Facebook is a key client: he has represented the company in Facebook v ConnectU, Facebook v StudiVZ, Facebook v Guerbuez, Facebook v Power.com and Miller v Facebook. Hopkins Guy is another respected player whose practice encompasses internet communications, electronics and information technology. He also has experience in the clean tech and solar energy fields. Guy led a team for Applied Materials in ATS v Applied Materials.Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
While perhaps historically best known for its transactional work, the IP department of this firm also “has excellent patent litigation expertise” across a wide range of industries. “Strong, highly experienced” Michael Ladra has notched up more than 20 years in the field and is particularly praised for his work before the ITC.
Formed in early 2009 by practitioners from Keker & Van Nest who wished to focus more exclusively on patent litigation, this practice is “really one to look out for and will definitely make a big impact on the scene”. It is already “doing a great job”, thanks to a tight-knit team of “extremely smart people” making patent litigation the cornerstone of their practices. The firm handles work for players in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, IT software and hardware and other industries, and is attracting work from some of the most significant patent owners in the market. Founding partner Daralyn Durie is “thought of extremely highly” by peers and clients.Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Patent litigation dominates the IP work at this international firm’s California practice, which tends to focus on consumer electronics, information technology and telecommunications, with praise reserved for the “talented team”. Wayne Barsky is “a great lawyer and excellent at client care”, with a particularly strong reputation in pharmaceutical patent litigation. Denis Salmon is well known for his expertise in medical devices cases, among others; he is a “seasoned practitioner who exercises great judgement when litigating a case”. Joshua Krevitt is another strong practitioner and, as head of the group, has a desk in the firm’s Palo Alto office. Overall, he is best known in New York and appears in our ranking table for that state.Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP
The Southern Californian practice of this IP boutique wins praise for its “heavy involvement” in the field and the “string of successes” to its name. Its practice is not confined to one strand of technology and it has worked with companies across the computer software and hardware, consumer electronics, chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields. Joseph Re has a broad practice, taking in numerous industries and technologies. He is reputed for his “creative and highly effective” litigation style that “keeps opponents guessing”, and for his overall skill as a trial lawyer.McDermott Will & Emery
McDermott Will & Emery and its “very good litigators” are recognised across California, where the firm “has concentrated a superb practice”: it has offices in Menlo Park, Irvine, Los Angeles and San Diego. It typically responds to local business needs, serving biotechnology and pharmaceutical clients out of San Diego and handling IT-related instructions out of Menlo Park. Yar Chaikovsky is an “outstanding, very strong” player at the firm’s Silicon Valley site. He recently led the team in representing Zumbox in a patent infringement case brought by Pitney Bowes and Pitney Bowes Software. Also in Silicon Valley, William Gaede co-chairs the firm’s life sciences and medical devices group and is esteemed for his work representing clients from those fields. “Big name” Terrence McMahon is one of the market’s most experienced players and is hailed as “a true force-of-nature trial lawyer” and a “great person to have representing you before a judge and jury”. He recently led the team in securing two major victories for gaming machine manufacturer Aristocrat Technologies.
Former vice chair of Howrey Henry Bunsow has joined Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP. He is “experienced, confident and a great court presence”, making him highly popular with clients. He is widely acknowledged as “an anchor of the firm and the patent litigation scene in California”. A jury trial veteran, while at Howrey he appeared in patent infringement case DuPont Air Products Nanomaterials v Cabot Microelectronics, acting as lead trial counsel to DA Nanomaterials. Also ex-Howrey, Lloyd Day is a seasoned and respected patent litigation expert, with a practice spanning the most sophisticated life sciences and IT-related technology. Another ex-Howrey practitioner, William Rooklidge, is currently riding high following two significant victories for Yahoo! in the Eastern District of Texas. Elsewhere, he has worked with Nike, Procter & Gamble and others, reflecting the diversity of his practice. Commentators observe that he frequently “comes to mind as an excellent person in California”. He has moved to Jones Day’s Irvine office. Peers “think very highly of” Patricia Thayer of Sidley Austin LLP. “A highly skilled, experienced and effective litigator”, she is best known for her work involving technology used by the life sciences industries. Jeff Randall is a recent recruit to Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, but has already made an impact, acting for clients such as Sun Microsystems. He prevailed for Sun in a jury trial in the Eastern District of Texas, defending it against claims of patent infringement, trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition, breach of contract and intentional interference with contract, in Versata Software Development Group v Sun Microsystems. He is widely admired for his expertise in the high-tech field.