Google Inc. was in a tough spot. The company had been hit with patent infringement claims in the plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas, by Function Media, LLC, a patent-holding company owned by husband and wife inventors from just down the road in Tyler. Function claimed Google’s AdSense advertising program infringed three patents related to creating and publishing customized electronic ads, and sought $600 million in damages.
Faced with litigation that threatened a major piece of its booming business model, the search giant knew where to turn: The litigators at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, specifically partner Charles Verhoeven. Says Google head of litigation Catherine Lacavera: “We have had some great victories working together with them.”
Verhoeven made sure they had another. His strategy for the six-day trial in January 2010 was straightforward: simplify the technology at issue and bring in Google executives and engineers to testify. It worked. The Quinn team persuaded the jury not only that Google did not infringe Function’s patents, but also that those patents were invalid. (Function has appealed the verdict.) Seven months after winning the case—the first patent suit Google had taken to trial—Verhoeven was back in the same Texas courtroom. The adversary: Bright Response Media, a patent-holding company owned by prolific patent enforcer Erich Spangenberg. The claim: that Google’s AdWords program infringed a Bright Response patent on e-mail sorting. The result: Another six-day trial and another total victory. (Bright Response opted not to appeal.)
Quinn’s other big wins for Google included Verhoeven snuffing three infringement suits filed against the company in East Texas on summary judgment, and name partner John Quinn beating a trademark infringement suit filed by Rosetta Stone Ltd. in the Eastern District of Virginia over Google’s AdWords program on summary judgment.
It would be easy to focus solely on the firm’s Google work, but Quinn lawyers score plenty of big wins for other major clients. Partner Raymond Nimrod, along with cocounsel from his former firm, Jenner & Block, won a $62 million jury verdict for The Dow Chemical Co. Inc. after a two-week trial in Delaware federal district court. Dow had sued Nova Chemical Corp., represented at trial by IP Litigation Department of the Year winner Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, over two patents Dow claimed infringed its patents on polymer blends used in grocery store plastic bags. In June 2010 the jury agreed—finding for Dow on all questions of infringement and validity. (Nova has appealed the verdict.) For longtime client Genentech, Inc., Verhoeven and partner Victoria Maroulis won a patent suit filed by Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH over two of Genentech’s most profitable anticancer drugs. The summary judgment win came two years after Quinn won a precedent-setting writ of mandamus at the Federal Circuit that let their client move the case from East Texas to California’s Northern District.
Quinn will be busy this year. The firm is battling Apple at the International Trade Commission and in courts around the world on behalf of smartphone makers that rely on Google’s Android operating system. While no one knows how the so-called smartphone wars will end, IP litigation chair Claude Stern exudes confidence: “We’re the ones at the table,” he says. “We’re the game changers.”
Practice Group Size: Partners: 58, Associates: 197, Of Counsel: 17
Practice Group as Percent of Firm: 39%
Percent of Firm Revenue: 40%