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Intellectual Property Litigation

Intellectual property (“IP”) is often the lifeblood of a business. Many millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours are invested in patented technologies, trademarks, software, and secret manufacturing methods, customer lists, and business strategies. Intellectual property is vital to obtaining funding, protecting investments in personnel and R&D, and maintaining a competitive edge.

Those rights are protected and monetized through litigation. Mr. Howard has been recognized every year since 2014 as a “Rising Star” in Texas for intellectual property litigation, an honor received by less than 2.5% of all practicing lawyers under 40. For the last three years, Mr. Howard has also been recognized as one of the 100 “Up-and-Coming” lawyers in Texas, known for his expertise in intellectual property litigation. His undergraduate background is in Biomechanical Engineering, and he has built prototypes, written software, and worked in labs.

Mr. Howard represented multiple universities and international research institutions in intellectual property matters and has worked with consumer electronics, medical devices and equipment, LEDs, semiconductors, games and leisurewear, and major fashion brands. Howard & Spaniol also have significant experience in trade secret cases involving various technologies. Mr. Howard has worked in all aspects of intellectual property assertion and defense and remains of counsel with one of the most well-known IP litigation boutiques in the country.

Where are we now and what are my options?

Political and economic pressure drastically changed the IP landscape over the last fifteen years. In 2006, the United States Supreme Court essentially eliminated a patent owner’s right to prevent the sale of infringing products in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange. In 2012, the America Invents Act, or AIA, created the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) and added a new administrative mechanism called inter partes review (“IPR”) that has been used by patent infringement defendants to cheaply and successfully invalidate patents and thus greatly decreased the value of patented technology.

Solving your business or legal problem within the confines of the current system requires a new approach. The “same old” no longer works when battling over IP and Howard & Spaniol understand what now works and why. A comprehensive IP assertion or defensive strategy is required, and he can help you plan or implement one.

In an example of maneuvering the current patent-litigation thicket, Mr. Howard represented a university patent holder who had licensed its technology to a medical device manufacturing company. When the university sought an audit under its license agreement, the medical device company removed the case to federal court and filed an IPR to attempt to cheaply invalidate the patent. Mr. Howard had the case sent back to state court on the basis of the state university’s sovereign immunity. He then obtained summary judgment in state court holding that the license agreement did not require a patent analysis to properly interpret the license agreement audit rights. In a parallel proceeding, the PTAB ruled that the same sovereign immunity prevented the IPR from proceeding. The Federal Circuit, citing Mr. Howard’s state-court summary judgment, agreed. The case then settled pursuant to a confidential settlement agreement.