Antitrust and intellectual property law defines the primary legal challenges confronted by the high technology and life sciences industries, and heavily influences innovation in every industry sector. Intellectual property rights protect an inventor’s contribution; at the same time, they exclude others from competing against the incumbent. Latham & Watkins’ IPA lawyers have litigated some of the most high-profile antitrust cases in this space and advised on some of the most challenging acquisitions. The team provides strategic advice on how to best use the antitrust and intellectual property laws to clients’ business advantage.
Clients benefit from Latham's constant involvement in a significant number of IPA matters at any given time. Given the depth and the complexity of the field, that kind of crucial experience is one of the reasons that clients trust the firm with their most strategically important matters.
High-tech products consist of hardware, software, intellectual property and business processes. Conflicts arise when plaintiffs seek access to parts of a system that the defendant seeks to reserve to itself. Such “access claims” are increasingly common in Europe and China. In the United States, companies with strong intellectual property rights and a sizable customer base frequently find themselves accused of monopolizing aftermarkets limited to their own brand. These claims often turn on a manufacturer’s right to refuse to license or sell its patented replacement parts and copyrighted service software to third-party providers of ancillary goods and services. Latham’s IPA lawyers have litigated many precedent-setting aftermarket cases, including Eastman Kodak v. ITS.
For many technology companies, intellectual property is the key asset on which the value of the company depends. The antitrust analysis of mergers and acquisitions is routinely driven by overlapping patent portfolios, potentially redundant R&D programs and the product pipeline. Latham’s IPA lawyers have handled both high-profile technology mergers and acquisitions of patent portfolios.
Recent examples include:
- Oracle’s acquisitions of Peoplesoft, BEA and Sun Microsystems
- Ticketmaster’s merger with LiveNation
- Texas Instruments’ acquisition of National Semiconductor
- Monster’s acquisition of HotJobs.
Latham’s international platform allows its lawyers to seamlessly coordinate merger notifications and agency negotiations across the US, EMEA and APAC jurisdictions.
Companies that rely on partners or affiliates for the distribution of their products and services frequently encounter antitrust obstacles around the world. Latham's IPA team is familiar not only with dual distribution and authorized reseller systems for physical goods but also with the complexities of distribution chains in the online advertising business, such as ad networks, ad exchanges, affiliate programs and syndication agreements.
Licensing, Patent Pools and Standard Setting
Latham's IPA lawyers routinely advise clients on complex licensing issues to maximize the value of their intellectual property. In that context, the firm also advises participants to standard setting bodies and patent pools. A particular focus of Latham's IPA practice has been the antitrust analysis of standards essential patents.
Reverse Payment Settlements
In the pharmaceutical space, Latham's IPA team has broad experience with ANDA patent litigation settlements and the antitrust ramifications of the Hatch-Waxman Act.