Intersection of Antitrust and IP INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

WilmerHale is uniquely positioned to provide counseling, strategic advice and litigation representation to companies confronting issues involving both antitrust and intellectual property law—and the intersection between the two.

Our lawyers are skilled in evaluating issues arising from standards bodies participation, collaborations with competitors, distribution and licensing arrangements, mergers and acquisitions, settlements of disputes, and other areas in which such cross-disciplinary experience is required. We typically build our teams to include antitrust and IP litigators who have years of experience collaborating across disciplines. These interdisciplinary case teams function as cohesive units, helping us to achieve extraordinary results for our clients.

Chambers USA 2016 recognized our Antitrust and Competition Group as having “[a] national antitrust practice with global reach, highly regarded for its particular expertise in tackling disputes at the junction of antitrust and intellectual property law.” In recognizing us as its 2014 Intellectual Property Litigation Department of the Year, The American Lawyer cited the firm's success representing a client in a number of global patent infringement battles—involving significant competition issues—as a major reason for the honor. The firm was also a finalist for the award in 2016.

Dichiara, Peter M.

Peter M. Dichiara


+1 617 526 6466 (t)

Dowd, James M.

James M. Dowd


+1 213 443 5309 (t)

Esch, Michael D.

Michael D. Esch


+1 202 663 6420 (t)

Ford, Mark A.

Mark A. Ford


+1 617 526 6423 (t)

Haag, Joseph F.

Joseph F. Haag


+1 650 858 6032 (t)

Lange, Perry A.

Perry A. Lange


+1 202 663 6493 (t)

Lee, William F.

William F. Lee


+1 617 526 6556 (t)

Areas of Focus

Our lawyers have been at the cutting edge of the development of the law on critical antitrust/IP issues.

Standard Setting and Declared Standard-Essential Patents

For antitrust issues concerning standard setting, we have litigated many of the landmark cases addressing contractual and antitrust claims arising from alleged failures to timely disclose IP rights to standard-setting organizations, and failures to offer FRAND or RAND licensing terms to suppliers of products that support standards. Among the clients we have successfully represented in this type of litigation are Broadcom, Intel and Apple. We also regularly counsel and represent clients in agency investigations involving standard setting and declared standard-essential patents. In Europe, our lawyers have been instrumental in encouraging the European Commission's Directorate General for Competition to initiate several high-profile investigations relating to alleged abuse of standard-essential patents. We have extensive experience advising clients on their global strategies for addressing assertions of declared standard-essential patents, including negotiating licenses and other resolutions, and litigating complex, multi-fora matters.

Competition Aspects of Commercial Transactions Involving Intellectual Property

US and non-US antitrust authorities are increasingly taking a harder look at mergers and acquisitions involving significant patent portfolios and continue to bring merger enforcement actions, especially in high-tech sectors. We have assisted clients with acquisitions of exclusive intellectual property rights that have triggered Hart-Scott-Rodino filings and multiple non-US notifications and with competitor collaborations involving significant intellectual property assets. Our recent experience also includes representing a major US company in a multi-billion-dollar acquisition involving highly technical products and large patent portfolios.

Patent Pools and Cross-Licensing

Our lawyers in the United States, Europe and China regularly advise clients on structuring licensing, co-operation and distribution arrangements to comply with competition laws, including vertical agreements, technology transfer, and research and development collaborations. We have helped clients manage competition implications of various complex intellectual property licensing arrangements, including cross-licensing and pooling arrangements that integrate complementary technologies and package licensing of multiple separate technologies. We often work closely with other law firms in multiple jurisdictions to provide our clients with consistent and seamless advice.

We also have experience litigating licensing disputes. We won a substantial victory for U.S. Philips Corporation in a nearly decade-long battle to enforce its recordable/rewritable CD (CD-R/RW) patent rights when the en banc US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in Princo v. ITC, rejected arguments that Philips' licensing practices constituted patent misuse. In a decision with far-reaching implications for patent misuse doctrine generally, the court (1) affirmed that patent misuse is applicable only to specific anticompetitive patentee conduct; and (2) recognized that an agreement between partners to a joint venture not to compete with the venture can have legitimate and pro-competitive purposes, and therefore can be condemned only on proof of anticompetitive effects under the rule of reason. The US Supreme Court denied Princo's petition for certiorari.

Walker Process and Sham Litigation

WilmerHale lawyers have extensive experience counseling clients on the antitrust risks associated with the assertion of patent rights. We have, for example, successfully defended clients accused of asserting patents allegedly procured by fraud on the US Patent and Trademark Office (Walker Process claims) or of filing “sham” patent claims against actual or potential rivals (Handgards claims). Among other matters, we obtained a favorable verdict for a pharmaceutical client after a week-long trial on Walker Process counterclaims stemming from a withdrawn patent infringement action.

Hatch-Waxman and "Reverse Payment" Settlements

For the last two decades, the FTC has sought to use antitrust enforcement to stop “reverse payments” between branded and generic pharmaceutical manufacturers. We have assisted clients with issues involving the interplay between FDA/Hatch-Waxman law, and intellectual property and antitrust laws, particularly in disputes over generic market entry. Our experience includes representing Cephalon in a prominent action brought by the FTC in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and in separate antitrust actions by putative classes of direct and indirect purchasers of Provigil®, as well as by a would-be generic competitor, all of which challenged Cephalon's settlement of Hatch-Waxman patent litigation.