Finalist, Intellectual Property Litigation Department of the Year: Winston & Strawn
Winston won a $1 billion jury verdict for Monsanto, but that's just a taste of what the firm's IP litigators can do.
Winning a $1 billion jury verdict for client Monsanto Company was the highlight of the past two years for Winston & Strawn's IP litigation practice. But the firm isn't a one-hit wonder. When it comes to generic drug manufacturers, new media and high-tech, Winston has proven that it is a go-to firm. Its IP litigators have scored key patent defense victories, won a precedent-setting decision for the generic pharmaceutical industry before the U.S. Supreme Court and paved new ground in copyright law.
Take Winston's important defense verdict for wireless networking company Belkin International against Fujitsu Limited. The firm convinced a San Jose jury to overrule the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in December 2012. Even though the PTO previously found Fujitsu's wireless networking patent valid three separate times, Winston partner David Enzminger helped persuade the jury that the patent was, in fact, invalid.And in a closely watched copyright case, Winston's Michael Elkin represented Veoh Networks Inc. at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit—defending against allegations by Universal Music Group that the company allowed third-party users to share videos containing musical performances with UMG's songs. The case clarified that protection under the "safe harbor" provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is applicable to other websites offering user-generated content, such as YouTube.
SIGNATURE WIN: Monsanto's $1 billion verdict against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (which eventually led to a settlement in March 2013 valued at more than $1.75 billion) was more than just an impressive win dollar-wise. A St. Louis jury took only 45 minutes in August 2012 to return its verdict, finding that DuPont infringed Monsanto's proprietary Roundup Ready herbicide-resistant technology for soybeans and corn. Winston's George Lombardi, a 2013 Litigator of the Year, persuaded jurors to reach that conclusion even though DuPont had never sold a single infringing product.
MAKING LAW: At the Supreme Court, the justices unanimously reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, ruling that Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories had the right to challenge the accuracy of information that Novo Nordisk filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—a decision hailed as a win for generic drug makers.
FROM THE CLIENT: "There's a degree of professionalism at Winston I don't always see at other firms. They are world-class litigators who can win in court and who also can obtain a favorable settlement when that's what the client wants," says David Cate, managing IP counsel, M-I LLC (a division of Schlumberger Ltd.). Winston has advised M-I on several high-profile matters.
ON THE DOCKET: Winston represents Aereo Inc., a start-up that allows subscribers to watch live and recorded streams of television via a dedicated dime-sized antenna for each subscriber. Aereo faces legal challenges from every major broadcast TV network. (Winston is cocounsel with Fish & Richardson.)
Practice Group Size and Revenue
Partners: 64 Associates: 78 Counsel: NA Other: 8
Practice Group as Percent of Firm: 17%
Percent of Firm Revenue 2012:16%