Genlyte’s trial lawyers knew they had a huge hurdle to overcome in their infringement case this February against Arch Lighting Group. Juries aren’t usually inclined to side with Goliaths, and the Louisville, Ky.-based Genlyte, one of the country’s three largest lighting manufacturers, with over $1 billion in annual revenue, was definitely the Goliath compared to tiny 25-employee Arch, headquartered in Taunton, Mass. “This was the big company versus the little guy,” recalls Genlyte lead trial counsel James Milliman, a partner at Middleton Reutlinger, a 48-lawyer litigation and IP firm in Louisville.

Milliman’s strategy: to win juror sympathy by playing up the human-interest elements of Genlyte’s case. As lead witness the Genlyte trial team called William Fabbri, co-inventor of the contested invention, Genlyte’s hospital room ceiling light. A 53-year lighting industry veteran, Fabbri described how he had started out on the assembly line for a Massachusetts lighting manufacturer (later acquired by Genlyte) and worked his way up to his current position as a Genlyte vice president and division manager.