Friday, April 6, 2012

John 'Mighty' Quinn is readying to represent Samsung against Apple at two ITC trials this spring

The firm of Quinn Emanuel is counsel for all three major Android device makers (Samsung, Motorola, HTC) in at least some of their litigations with Apple. The lead counsel in those cases, Charles Verhoeven, has an incredible track record in patent lawsuits, which includes that he successfully defended Google against some infringement claims before the current wave of smartphone-related patent lawsuits began. But Samsung has now additionally enlisted John Quinn, the founder of Quinn Emanuel, for its ITC trials against Apple later this spring. The one on Apple's claims against Samsung is scheduled for May 31-June 6, and the one on Samsung's claims against Apple for June 4-June 15.

Earlier this week, Mr. Quinn wrote to the ITC to declare his acceptance of the protective orders governing access to evidence in those investigations. The timing of his appearance on Samsung's behalf strongly suggests that he is going to be Samsung's lead counsel at those two ITC trials.

By some measures, Quinn Emanuel is the leading business litigation firm in the United States, and at the very least it can be said that it's the youngest firm (founded in 1986) to be considered among the best firms in the world.

If you're interested in more information on John Quinn and how he turned his firm into what it is today, I recommend this article by The American Lawyer. He twice finished the Hawaii Ironman contest.

Since leading business law firms in the U.S. are typically "young" if they're 50 years old, appearances of name partners in court are a rare exception when companies like Apple and Samsung clash. Apple is represented against Samsung by Wilmer Hale (founded in 1918) and Morrison & Foerster (founded in 1883; it was already 103 years old when Quinn Emanuel started).

For Samsung, it's strategically very important to score some wins (defensive as well as offensive ones) against Apple. So far Samsung has been able to fend off most of Apple's assertions, but not all of them, and Samsung has not yet enforced any intellectual property right of its own against Apple. Samsung filed an ITC complaint against Apple before Apple filed one against Samsung, a fact that shows how important this forum is for Samsung.

The smartphone-related trial schedule in June is dense as I highlighted in January. The Apple v. Motorola trial in Chicago, under Judge Richard Posner, is going to be highly important, and on June 7, Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California plans to hear Apple's motion for a preliminary injunction against Samsung. I believe that this congested schedule at least contributed to Mr. Quinn's involvement. While I haven't previously seen him appear in any of those Android cases, he has done various high-profile patent cases.

Quinn Emanuel's work for multiple Android companies comes with challenges that go beyond scheduling. I have seen Apple point out on one occasion that Quinn Emanuel took allegedly-inconsistent positions against the same Apple patent in different cases, and on another occasion Apple said that a certain fact was known to QE not because of its work on the case in question but because of its representation of another Android company.

Between those Android companies, there are no conflicts at this stage. In Germany, however, Preu Bohlig represents HTC against Apple. While QE is on HTC's side against Apple in the U.S., its Mannheim office is suing HTC on behalf of non-practicing entity IPCom.

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