Winston & Strawn has expanded its intellectual property practice to capture high-stakes litigation, and it paid off with a strong 2012 across a broad spectrum of specialties.
Three lawyers in three offices handled some of the most high-profile litigation in technology, biotech and patent litigation. The firm also won a major dispute in England over labeling for Greek yogurt (which now must be labeled Greek-style yogurt, by the way, if it’s not made in Greece).
"I think it’s pretty unusual to have that kind of depth across offices," said George Lombardi, a partner based in Chicago and chairman of the firm’s intellectual property practice. "We’re known as IP lawyers who can try the cases and know how to talk to the jurors and judges about the cases and get the results the clients need."
The best example: the $1 billion verdict Lombardi won in August for client Monsanto Co. in an intellectual property dispute with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. In the Eastern District of Missouri, a jurisdiction not known for being overly friendly to plaintiffs, a federal jury that spent three weeks hearing a dispute about genetically modified soybeans took only one hour to return the verdict.
The August verdict ranked No. 3 on The National Law Journal affiliate VerdictSearch‘s Top 100 Verdicts of 2012. The jury concluded that DuPont and a subsidiary infringed Monsanto’s proprietary Roundup Ready herbicide-resistant technology for soybeans and corn.
The firm took a lead role in a case that could have had far-reaching implications for industry standards in general and Wi-Fi technology in particular. In December, partners David Enzminger in Los Angeles and David Bloch in San Francisco were lead counsel in a complete defense victory for Belkin International Inc. against patent infringement claims brought by Fujitsu Ltd. over wireless network technology. The jury deliberated just three hours before finding the patent invalid.
The firm won another precedent-setting case in July that could shape the future for the broadcast media industry. Partners Michael Elkin and Tom Lane in the New York office and Jennifer Golinveaux in San Francisco represented Aereo Inc., which has developed mobile-streaming television technology. A judge ruled against 17 television broadcast networks that had sought a preliminary injunction to stop Aereo’s service.
"It’s proof of what we tell people: We do IP cases well. In particular, we do IP trials well and we get results for our clients," Lombardi said.