Attorneys in Baker Botts' intellectual property practice not only grasp complicated technology but can explain it in terms simple enough for jurors to understand.
Bart Showalter, a partner in Dallas and chairman of the firm's intellectual property department, says the high degree of technical expertise that its IP lawyers have distinguishes Baker Botts from other firms. Showalter says 100 to 120 of the approximately 140 lawyers in the IP department have engineering and technical degrees.
Roger Fulghum, a partner who heads Baker Botts' intellectual property practice in Houston, says his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from The University of Texas comes in handy.
"I think that engineering degree allows me to talk the talk with engineering clients," Fulghum says.
Fulghum joined Maria Boyce, partner in charge of Baker Botts' Houston office, in representing Halliburton Energy Services Inc. in a suit involving allegations of infringement of Halliburton's patent for a downhole tool apparatus with nonmetallic components that has been instrumental in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" operations.
Boyce, the plaintiff's lead counsel in Halliburton Energy Services Inc. v. Weatherford International Inc., says Halliburton originally filed the suit in 2002 while represented by a different firm but had the case dismissed in 2004 after receiving an unfavorable claim construction ruling.
Fulghum says Halliburton hired Baker Botts to refile the suit in 2007 after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reissued the re-examination certificate for the patent. The Baker Botts team convinced U.S. District Judge David Godbey of the Northern District of Texas in Dallas to reverse his claim construction ruling in July 2010.
"It was a 180-degree turnaround," Fulghum says.
Fulghum says that during voir dire for the 2012 trial, the Baker Botts team had to deal with opposition to fracking.
"In jury selection, there were negative comments about fracking," Fulghum says. "We had a tool that made fracking much more readily available. We also had a juror comment negatively on Halliburton."
Boyce says the Baker Botts team tried to make the technology seem real to jurors and relevant to them during the eight-day trial. To do that, Boyce says, they brought the tools to court.
"We had these tools on tables throughout the courtroom," she says.
The jurors understood the technology. In February 2012, the jury found Weatherford had infringed the patent and awarded Halliburton more than $35 million in royalties and damages.
Boyce says the parties subsequently settled for an undisclosed amount.
Frank Vlahakos, Halliburton's senior counsel, says he was happy with the Baker Botts attorneys' performance in the case.
"They understood the technology, no question, and were able to articulate the positive facts, if you will, from our perspective to Weatherford and their counsel," Vlahakos says.
Scott Partridge, another partner in Baker Botts' Houston office, led a team in defending the CME Group, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Board of Trade of the City of Chicago Inc., and New York Mercantile Exchange Inc., against a patent infringement suit that Realtime Data filed in 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Partridge says 23 different defense groups were involved in Realtime Data LLC d/b/a IXO v. CME Group Inc., et al. and the related cases. The six patents at issue covered Realtime products used in compressing electronically transmitted data in commodity and financial trading.
The defendants petitioned and were granted a writ of mandamus by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to transfer the case to the Southern District of New York. In November 2012, the New York court granted the CME defendants' motion for summary judgment, agreeing with CME that their encoding and decoding systems do not analyze content of a data field or data block to determine its type, as Realtime had argued. Partridge says the issue, developed by Baker Botts, addressed claims against all the defendants.
"We thought it was an issue that was a winner for everybody and therefore focused on it," Partridge says.
Realtime has appealed the judgment to the Federal Circuit.