Betting the company became big business last year for Cooley. "For us," said Jim Brogan, chairman of the firm’s intellectual property practice, "we ended up with some pretty high-stakes things that all came in relatively a tight time frame."
One of those big cases was the closely followed litigation brought by Yahoo! Inc. on March 12 of last year. The litigation team led by Cooley chairman Stephen Neal, with co-counsel William Lee of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, defended Facebook Inc. against infringement claims pertaining to 12 patents. Facebook ended up purchasing the rights to more than 1,000 patents, including $550 million worth from Microsoft Corp., during the four months of litigation. Expanding its patent portfolio helped settle the case in a strategic no-cash deal reached on July 6, Brogan said. "The folks at Yahoo really underestimated Facebook as an adversary there," he said.
Big wins have brought more opportunities. In July, Cooley entered the Los Angeles market with a new office in Santa Monica, Calif., headed by David Hernand, former co-chairman of the media, entertainment and technology practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The office is expected to tap into the region’s growing venture-capital market.
Also keeping the firm busy was representing Gevo Inc. Cooley thwarted a preliminary injunction last year and then obtained a favorable ruling on March 19 for Gevo in a patent-infringement case filed by Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture between BP PLC and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. After Butamax admitted that no literal infringement existed following U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson’s ruling granting most of Gevo’s summary-judgment motion, judgment was entered on April 10. Butamax has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
"Had we lost that, it would’ve been life-threatening for the company," Brogan said. "We actually were able to show those patents asserted were neither likely infringed nor valid, which was a huge win for the company at that point in time. Had we not gotten it, their initial commercial undertaking would have been shut down. It would have been brutal."
Additionally, Cooley scored a significant win for Qualcomm Inc., which was sued in 2009 by Gabriel Technologies Corp. on an alleged $1 billion in infringement claims. After getting those claims dismissed on summary judgment, Cooley obtained $12.4 million in attorney fees for Qualcomm. Gabriel Technologies has appealed both rulings.