Six intellectual property litigation partners from White & Case in New York are joining Fenwick & West, marking the first addition of litigators to the Silicon Valley firm’s Manhattan office since it launched in 2016.
Litigators Jeffrey Oelke, Kevin McGann, James Trainor and Adam Gahtan joined the firm Tuesday, while Robert Counihan and Ryan Johnson plan to join Fenwick soon this summer. Some associates may join with the group, Oelke said, adding it was too early to say how many.
All six were most recently partners at White & Case, where they practiced together for at least a decade, representing life sciences, pharmaceutical, biotech and tech companies in patent litigation. Some of the attorneys’ tenures at White & Case stretched over two decades.
Oelke has represented Pfizer Inc., UCB and Novo Nordisk, and according to his former firm profile, his work for Pfizer has included several patent infringement disputes as well as arbitrations over patent licensing. McGann’s clients have included Google, Verizon Wireless, Panasonic, Marvell Semiconductor and Keyscan, according to his former firm profile.
The team has also tried pharmaceutical patent infringement cases, including Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) litigation under the Hatch-Waxman Act. They have also litigated IP cases for tech companies related to e-commerce, video streaming, mobile devices, wireless communication, semiconductor design and the internet.
Fenwick managing partner Rodger Cole said the team is “known as one of the most successful IP litigation groups in the country.”
In an interview, Oelke and McGann said Fenwick’s concentrations fit squarely in their practice and client service areas. While Fenwick is focused on life sciences and technology, Oelke said, “White & Case has a larger, diverse platform that includes those things and many other things.”
“When we started talking with Fenwick, we were impressed by the fact they’re a full-service law firm focused on areas of tech and life sciences,” Oelke said. “That meshes very well with the clients we have and hope to serve.”
McGann said the group had not necessarily been looking to move but considered Fenwick’s opportunity a “unique situation.”
The new Fenwick partners anticipate some clients to join them. They have heard some favorable reaction from clients so far, McGann said.
The group handles many disputes in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, as some IP battles shift from the courts to the PTAB. “It may have decreased the number of lawsuits,” Oelke said, but litigation “is still happening over the bigger products.” If there’s significant conflict, “they will end up in court as well,” he said.
“The biggest change we have seen is that we have to be prepared to fight in two locations at the same time,” Oelke added.
Fenwick’s New York office, now with about 30 lawyers, will move in September to 902 Broadway under a 10-year lease in the Flatiron district, a move the firm said is designed to allow its lawyers to be physically closer to tech clients.
The group’s addition highlights Fenwick’s maturity in New York. Before their arrival, Fenwick’s New York office, which includes several corporate lawyers, referred IP litigation matters to the firm’s West Coast attorneys or made co-counsel arrangements on the East Coast, Cole said.
The group is joining a sizable firmwide IP litigation practice. Fenwick already had more than 25 partners who focus on some form of intellectual property litigation, including 10 who focus on patent litigation, Cole said.
Last month, Fenwick hired Matthew Cantor, formerly an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as an executive compensation partner.
In a statement, a White & Case spokesman said the firm wishes its former partners well. “White & Case has a leading intellectual property practice in New York, across the United States, and around the world, and we will continue to invest in and grow the practice in order to serve our clients,” the spokesman said.