During the past two years, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison has dramatically increased its intellectual property practice by attracting high-value clients — those who say they cannot afford to lose — and by a willingness to go to trial. "We’ve gone from 10 to 25 patent litigators, with the hope we can keep that process going," said Nick Groombridge, a partner in the practice. "If I could get up to 50 patent litigators, I’d be very happy."
Patent litigation is the core of the firm’s IP practice, which also, historically, has included a significant copyright and trademark practice. The combination of high-value clients and trial readiness paid off in 2012 when Groombridge and partner David Ball, with a valuable assist by Weil, Gotshal & Manges, won a $170 million jury award for General Electric Co. in an infringement suit over wind-turbine technology against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas Inc. No appeal has been filed, but one is expected.
The two lawyers fought off an infringement suit against Garmin International Inc. by Triangle Software LLC, which alleged infringing sales of more than $2 billion on five traffic-information patents. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sealed their victory in its entirety.
Genentech Inc. holds the Cabilly patents — what Groombridge calls 10 of the most valuable patents in the world. Partners Ken Gallo and Catherine Nyarady settled two series of complex infringement and antitrust actions involving those patents on March 27, 2012. In unusual same-day victories, one in the Federal Circuit and the other in district court, Nyarady and of counsel John Nathan won a $70 million infringement award for Edwards Lifesciences Corp. against a Medtronic Inc. subsidiary over Edwards’ transcatheter heart valve, and defended Edwards against Medtronic’s infringement claim relating to the heart-valve technology. "We tried five cases in 2012, which for the size of our group is large," Groombridge said. "There were only 100 patent trials in the country."
On the deal side, partners Robert Schumer, Charles Googe, Jeffrey Samuels and James Schwab represented the Discovery Channel, which with the Oprah Winfrey Network announced an exclusive partnership with actor, director, screenwriter, playwright and producer Tyler Perry to become his sole destination for all new television series and projects. "In terms of headcount, we’re a small part of the firm, but it’s very much a growth area," Groombridge said.