WilmerHale IP Litigation Team Successfully Defends Intel in Hedge Fund-Backed Patent Challenge in Waco

WilmerHale IP Litigation Team Successfully Defends Intel in Hedge Fund-Backed Patent Challenge in Waco


A WilmerHale trial team—led by Bill Lee, Mindy Sooter, and Joseph Mueller—completed the first two in a series of three closely watched patent trials taking place in a Waco, Texas courtroom that has become a magnet for patent litigation.

On April 23, 2021, a federal jury delivered a win for Intel, rejecting shell company VLSI’s $3 billion damages claim in the second installment of “The Waco Trilogy.” This victory follows a $2.1 billion win for VLSI in the first trial in the series earlier this year; Intel has already filed post-trial motions challenging that verdict. The cases are overseen by Judge Alan Albright, a former patent litigator. Under his leadership, the Western District of Texas has become the largest patent docket in the United States.

The cases have presented logistical challenges due not only to their back-to-back timing—and the resulting publicity challenges in a relatively small jurisdiction—but also because of the ongoing pandemic. At the trials, our team has placed the highest priority on the health and safety of all witnesses, staff, and attorneys, with daily COVID testing, social distancing during trial preparations, and an on-site medic. But through all these challenges, the team has shown great comradery and perseverance, pulling together to present strong merits positions in both trials.

The three Waco trials are part of a larger global war between technology leader Intel and VSLI—a creation of New York fund Fortress Investments, in turn owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank—that exemplifies the trend toward financial-backed patent litigations, with investors seeking to use patent litigation as a high-risk/high-reward component in their investment portfolios.

Throughout the large-scale litigation, avidly watched by the patent bar, longtime client Intel has relied on WilmerHale as a trusted counsel. The firm team includes dozens of lawyers and staff from across several US offices who have played critical roles in both the current trials and the previous years of fact and expert discovery and pre-trial proceedings. Among the senior lawyers in Waco were Arthur Coviello, Felicia Ellsworth, Lauren Fletcher, Jordan Hirsch, Greg Lantier, Dominic Massa, Chip O’Neill, Kate Saxton, Josh Stern, Louis Tompros and Calvin Walden.

The recent victory in the second trial garnered significant media attention, and earned WilmerHale lawyers Bill Lee, Mindy Sooter, and Joseph Mueller a spot as Litigation Daily’s Litigators of the Week. The parties will have their third and final trial of the series in June or July.