The Two Largest Patent Jury Awards of 2019 and Other Recent Successes
Over the last three months, Irell has secured three nine-figure jury verdicts totaling more than one billion dollars before enhancement – including the two largest patent jury awards of 2019 in the country – and three findings of willful infringement, in addition to a U.S. Supreme Court win that struck down a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office policy. This followed a series of defense victories for high-profile clients including Juniper Networks and Uber Technologies. Please find some highlights below.
USAA Secures $200M Infringement Jury Verdict Against Wells Fargo
On November 6, 2019, Irell scored a $200 million jury award for the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) and a finding of willful infringement against Wells Fargo relating to patents for mobile check deposit technology. The verdict in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas covered a three-year period of infringement for patents relating to mobile remote deposit capture. Irell had previously blocked the institution of seven CBM/IPRs filed by Wells Fargo. The Irell team included co-lead counsel Jason Sheasby and Lisa Glasser, as well as associates Tony Rowles, Andrew Strabone and Benjamin Monnin.
$752M Jury Award for Sloan Kettering and Juno
A little more than a month later, on December 13, 2019, Irell convinced a jury to award Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and Juno Therapeutics, Inc. $752 million in a patent infringement suit against Kite Pharma Inc. The jury also found that Kite willfully infringed the patent for cancer immunotherapy known as CAR T-cell therapy. The court subsequently enhanced the award to $1.2 billion. The case was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Irell team, led by Morgan Chu, also included Alan Heinrich, Maclain Wells, Elizabeth Tuan, Michael Fleming, Rebecca Carson and Ingrid Petersen, as well as co-counsel Jones Day.
Irell Nets Additional $102M Patent Jury Verdict for USAA
On January 10, 2020, Irell persuaded another jury in the Eastern District of Texas to award USAA $102 million in damages and a finding of willful infringement against Wells Fargo relating to two additional patents for mobile remote deposit capture technology. The jury’s verdict came on the heels of Irell’s $200 million jury award for USAA and finding of willful infringement against Wells Fargo involving two patents for the auto capture process (described above). The Irell team included co-lead counsel Jason Sheasby and Lisa Glasser, as well as associates Tony Rowles, Andrew Strabone, Benjamin Monnin, Kelsey Schuetz and Ingrid Petersen.
Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court Decision for NantKwest
In another significant victory, Irell also persuaded U.S. Supreme Court to side unanimously with NantKwest Inc. and strike down the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s policy that applicants who appeal to a district court must foot the USPTO’s legal bills — no matter who wins. The justices’ December 11, 2019 decision in Peter v. NantKwest Inc., 18-801 came two months after Morgan Chu argued the case before the nation’s highest court. The high court win for NantKwest preserves the ability of small inventors to choose a Section 145 appeal without having to pay the USPTO's attorney’s fees. NantKwest is developing cancer treatments using natural killer cells. The Irell team also included Alan Heinrich and Michael Harbour.
Juniper Scores Complete Victory in Patent Dispute With Finjan
Irell also garnered big results for clients earlier in 2019. In August, the firm delivered a complete victory for Juniper in a lawsuit brought by Finjan – winning a final judgment dismissing the case and giving Juniper victory on all of Finjan’s asserted patents. This followed a verdict handed down by a jury in the Northern District of California in December 2018 that Juniper did not infringe a malware detection patent held by Finjan Inc. The result was particularly rewarding for Juniper as Finjan was dubbed “Cybersecurity’s Top Patent Litigator” by Bloomberg and Finjan’s success in suits involving other major industry players has caused many of Finjan’s other targets to acquiesce to its financial demands. The Irell team representing Juniper included Jonathan Kagan and Rebecca Carson as co-lead counsel, as well as Alan Heinrich, Dennis Courtney and Ingrid Petersen.
Uber’s Wins: Securities Action Dismissal and Settlement Approval
In July 2019, Irell secured a dismissal with prejudice at the pleading stage of a securities fraud class action brought against Uber seeking billions of dollars in damages. The case was one of the first of its kind, brought under California’s market manipulation statute. At the outset of the case and over the plaintiff’s vigorous opposition, Irell obtained a stay of discovery pending resolution of Uber’s motion to dismiss. Then Irell secured the complete dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint, followed by a second complete dismissal of the amended complaint with prejudice. The defense was led by Matt Ashley, with assistance from Andra Greene and Michael Harbour.
The following month, Irell helped Uber secure final court approval of a $32.5 million settlement to resolve a consolidated class action over Uber’s 'Safe Rides' fee brought by riders over, among other things, Uber’s allegedly false and/or misleading representations about safety and breach of implied contract.