Reed Smith’s performance bears out its history with intellectual property legal services, and its growth in the sector has broadened its reach without changing its approach.
One of the first major firms to develop an IP department, Reed Smith represents clients in a range of industries, including pharmaceutical, software, academics, health care, telecommunications, chemicals and e-commerce.
James Hultquist, who is head of the department, quoted the firm’s tagline, “The business of relationships,” and said, “It’s really true.”
One of the things that distinguishes Reed Smith from the competition is its genuine culture of cooperation and collaboration across the globe, which facilitates attentive relationships with clients, no matter where the relationship begins.
In one recent case, Hultquist said, a client called him in Chicago with a problem in China and the firm’s office there was able to resolve the issue favorably.
Even though the firm has grown significantly over the last decade, it has maintained a cohesive culture through carefully planned acquisitions, Hultquist said. The firm’s management is careful in its assessment of new offices before merging – it makes sure the new hires are a cultural fit for Reed Smith, he said.
The natural urge is for attorneys to be protective of the clients they bring with them when they join a new firm, so it has been an important component of Reed Smith’s growth to foster a firmwide atmosphere of valuing all of its clients.
Now, it has both global reach and close-knit familiarity with clients, Hultquist said.
That careful growth is sustainable, he said, because “we’re not just tacking on offices like spokes on a wheel.”
Across the firm’s practice group, Reed Smith attorneys pride themselves on understanding their clients’ businesses and what their objectives are.
Patent litigation can be expensive, so Reed Smith helps clients understand what’s at stake and then often finds a way to resolve the issue, short of trial, that would benefit its client.
“We’re willing and able to go to the mat, but we work with them to meet their needs,” Hultquist said.
The firm has recently had several notable victories, winning more than $5 million in attorney and expert fees after years of litigation on behalf of Highmark, as it defended the Pittsburgh health insurance giant against infringement claims from a patent troll.
It won summary judgment for Ricon, a subsidiary of Westinghouse Airbrake Technologies, which had created a new type of ramp to help people in wheelchairs board buses. “A cross-country IP team comprised of Reed Smith attorneys from both Pittsburgh and San Francisco presented the legal theory that under the broad claim constructions advocated by the plaintiff, all of the patent claims asserted against the Ricon bus ramp must be invalid for lack of written description,” the firm said.
It also handled GlaxoSmithKline’s constitutional challenge to the patent false-marking statute, which allows individuals to enforce its rules on behalf of the government without holding any stake in the issue.
After a single-count complaint from an employee at medical-equipment manufacturer Accuray against his former employer, Best Medical International, for breaching a severance agreement turned into multiple claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, unfair competition, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, breach of noncompetition agreements and conspiracy, Reed Smith won summary judgment on all issues for Accuray.
Reed Smith’s motion for attorney fees in that case led the court to establish a two-part test to determine when there has been bad faith that would merit the award of attorney fees. Using its newly created test, the court found that Best Medical’s case was brought in bad faith and awarded Accuray fees and expenses.
The firm is also representing Smithfield Packing Co. in an ongoing suit.
“They did everything we expected,” said Joel Weaver, corporate counsel to Smithfield. “They really did spend a good amount of time learning the facts of the case and our business.” Smithfield doesn’t usually bring lawsuits, Weaver said, but the company decided to defend its mark and Reed Smith helped it to navigate the complications of bringing an action against a Puerto Rico-based company.
Worldwide, the firm has nearly 100 lawyers in its IP department, including 40 who are patent lawyers with backgrounds in electrical, chemical and mechanical sciences; organic and physical chemistry; biotechnology; physics; and material and animal sciences.
One-third of Reed Smith’s IP litigation lawyers are based in Pennsylvania. •