Sarah Chapin Columbia
Sarah Chapin Columbia

When BlackBerry was threatened with patent infringement that went to the heart of its technology, the company fought back. About three months before the trial in NXP v. Research in Motion, BlackBerry (previously known as Research in Motion) brought in Sarah Chapin Columbia, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP and head of the firm’s intellectual property litigation practice group, to serve as lead counsel. Columbia and her team won a complete victory against the plaintiff.

“This was a very important case for BlackBerry,” Columbia told WIPL. “We secured a complete defense victory before a jury trial.”

NXP, a Dutch semiconductor manufacturer, had filed suit against BlackBerry in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. NXP accused BlackBerry of infringing three patents related to wireless communications circuitry. BlackBerry was determined to take the case to trial, rather than settle or negotiate, according to Columbia. The trial began March 24. On April 7, the jury found that all asserted patent claims were not infringed and not valid.

In a statement, Steve Zipperstein, chief legal officer at BlackBerry, said, “We are pleased with the jury’s verdict. While this is a victory for BlackBerry, we look forward to a time when technology companies will no longer be forced to spend huge amounts of time and money defending frivolous patent cases such as these, and instead invest their resources to drive innovation. Until then, we will vigorously defend our intellectual property rights and contest all meritless claims.”

Columbia’s practice focuses on intellectual property litigation including patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret matters. She also counsels clients on overall intellectual property strategy and positioning, including litigation avoidance. She has extensive experience in representing clients in private arbitration proceedings under the rules and procedures of the International Chamber of Commerce, Swiss Chamber of Commerce, World Intellectual Property Organization, American Arbitration Association and other organizations.