Kathleen Sullivan of Quinn Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan.
(Photo: Jason Doiy)

Tell us about your top U.S. Supreme Court or federal circuit court victory over the past year and how you and your team achieved the win. Samsung v. Apple was the U.S. Supreme Court’s first design patent case in over 120 years. To win the case for Samsung, we had to show that Apple was not entitled to Samsung’s total profit on its smartphones based on design patents covering merely narrow, partial features of the phones’ appearance. The easy part was convincing the court that such a result made no sense. The hard part was showing why we were right as a matter of statutory interpretation, which our team did by exhaustive research on Patent Act legislative history, 19th century dictionary definitions, PTO manuals and policy, and the practical consequences of the competing rules.

How did your firm approach appellate success over the past year? Our appellate success is fully integrated with our success as a trial firm. The appellate group worked hard last year not only to preserve our existing victories but also to lay the groundwork for new ones. And we worked doubly hard to overturn occasional defeats.

What practice advice would you give your younger self? 1. Oral argument is like jazz; it is less an argument than a conversation with the judges in which you must listen carefully and always be prepared to improvise. 2. While you must know the law well in any appeal, you must know the record even better.

Responses submitted by Kathleen Sullivan, Quinn Emanuel’s appellate practice chair.